FOI reference: FOI/18/00016
Date received: 27 December 2017
Date responded: 25 January 2018
1. The estimated cost to the UK Government of administering the 11 Welfare Powers which will be devolved to the new Scottish Benefits agency in 2019:
in total, ie the current total cost
for Scotland, ie the estimated cost for doing it on behalf of Scotland
any estimates savings to the UK Gov from the admin being devolved to Scotland.
2. The estimated costs of IT for the New Scottish Benefits Agency (the total estimate for set up is £400m and £200m annual cost):
set up costs and annual costs
is there an option to pay the UK gov to do the IT, ie use existing systems?
In relation to your first set of questions, your statement that 11 Welfare Powers will be devolved to a new Scottish benefits agency in 2019 is incorrect. The commitment the Scottish Minister's have made is to devolve all of the social security powers by the end of the current Scottish Parliamentary term. The current Scottish Parliamentary term ends in 2021.
Our aim is to provide information whenever possible. However, in this instance, the information you have requested on the total cost of administering the 11 benefits by the UK Government is not held by the Scottish Government. Estimate savings to the UK Government from administration being devolved are also not held. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not hold the information you have requested. However, you may wish to submit a new request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) to the Department for Work and Pensions at; Department for Work and Pensions, Caxton House, Tothill Street, London, SW1H 9DA who should be able to help you further.
You have asked about the estimated cost to the UK Government for administering the benefits to be devolved. The Scottish Government has prepared an estimate. This is a formal notice under Section 25(1) of FOISA that this information does not require to be released as it is otherwise accessible. However, in order to be of assistance, the Financial Memorandum to the Social Security (Scotland) Bill (1) contains the estimate on page 16 at paragraph 62. The Scottish Government estimate £159 million per annum as the cost for administration of the 11 benefits by the Department for Work and Pensions, this estimate is in 2016/17 prices.
Your second set of questions is in relation to IT costs. You state that the total estimate for set up is £400 million and £200 million annual cost, this is incorrect. The set up costs and annual cost estimates for IT and the agency are contained within the Financial Memorandum to the Social Security (Scotland) Bill. Again, under Section 25(1) of FOISA this information does not require to be released as it is otherwise accessible. However, in order to be of assistance, the Financial Memorandum contains the estimate of set up costs on page 14 at paragraph 54, we refer to set up costs as implementation costs. The estimate implementation costs of the agency are £308 million, this figure includes an estimate of £190 million for IT implementation. The Scottish Government also wrote to the Scottish Parliament's Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee on 7 December 2017, providing a breakdown of the £190 million estimate IT implementation costs which you may find useful(2). The estimate of annual costs for the Agency are contained on page 16 at Table 6 of the Financial Memorandum, where a range of £144 million to £156 million per annum is provided, in 2016/17 prices. Further detail on estimates of agency administration costs are contained in the Outline Business Case For the Agency for Social Security in Scotland (3), you should note that this document was prepared in 2014/15 prices.
You have asked whether there is an option to pay the UK Government for provision of IT services. Under Section 25(1) of FOISA this information does not require to be released as it is otherwise accessible. However, the Scottish Government wrote to the Scottish Parliament's Finance and Constitution Committee on the topic of IT implementation4 on the 26 September 2017. This letter and note appended to the letter, contain details on the Scottish Government's approach to IT implementation (4). The Scottish Government does plan to reuse existing Government systems (both Scottish and UK systems) where appropriate to do so and where this provides value for money.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House