The Scotland Act 2016 gave us new powers relating to social security, including responsibility over certain benefits.
We are using these powers to create a Scottish social security system based on dignity, fairness and respect, which will help to support those who need it, when they need it.
Our top priority is to ensure the safe and secure transition of the 11 benefits for the 1.4 million people who rely on them.
See which benefits were devolved to the Scottish Government, and which remain reserved to the UK Government: Responsibility for benefits: overview.
- designing a social security agency with a strong local presence across Scotland
- engaging with organisations, and people with experience of receiving benefits, to build a social security system that works for them
- improving benefits for carers by increasing the Carer’s Allowance and introducing a Young Carer Grant
- delivering the Best Start Grant by summer 2019 to increase support for low-income families with young children
- delivering the Funeral Expense Assistance benefit by summer 2019 to provide critical financial support to people at a difficult time
- improving benefits for disabled people and people with ill health, and confirming that no assessments will be carried out by the private sector
- working with the Department for Work and Pensions to introduce flexibilities to the way Universal Credit is paid
- paying some income-related benefits, such as grants from the Scottish Welfare Fund and Discretionary Housing Payments
- providing help with heating costs and extending the Winter Fuel Payment to families with severely disabled children
- campaigning to maximise benefit take up
All benefits paid in Scotland were managed by the UK Government until April 2013, when Council Tax Reduction and the Scottish Welfare Fund were devolved to the Scottish Government.
Following the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, the Smith Commission recommended that the Scottish Parliament be given autonomy to determine the structure and value of a range of powers over disability, as well as the power to make administrative changes to Universal Credit and to vary the housing cost element. It also recommended that Scottish Parliament be given powers to create new benefits in areas of devolved responsibility, and top-up reserved ones.
These recommendations were made law by the Scotland Act 2016, whose bill received royal assent in March 2016. In that same month we published our vision for social security in Scotland.
We set up the Joint Ministerial Working Group on Welfare in February 2015 to provide a forum for discussion and to ensure that the welfare and employment-related aspects of the Act are implemented.
From 29 July to 30 October 2016, we ran a consultation on social security in Scotland to gather views on developing a Social Security Bill. It received 521 responses.
In February 2017 we published an independent analysis of responses to the social security consultation, as well as our response to the social security consultation.
The Social Security (Scotland) Bill was published on 21 June 2017. View an easy read guide to the Social Security (Scotland) Bill.
Bills and legislation
The Social Security (Scotland) Bill establishes a framework for the new system and devolves 11 existing social security benefits to Scotland.
- Social Security Bill: equality impact assessment
- Social Security Bill: child rights and wellbeing assessment
- Social Security Bill: business and regulatory impact assessment
- Social Security Bill: privacy impact assessment
- Social Security Bill: island screening assessment
The Scotland Act (2016) transferred new social security powers to the Scottish Parliament allowing Scottish Ministers to develop new policies on benefits that will help tackle inequality and poverty in Scotland.
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