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Publication - Consultation Paper

Social Security in Scotland: consultation (easy read version)

Published: 11 Aug 2016
Part of:
Communities and third sector
ISBN:
9781786523938

Easy read version of the consultation on social security, including policy, delivery and operational issues.

146 page PDF

2.9MB

146 page PDF

2.9MB

Contents
Social Security in Scotland: consultation (easy read version)
Part 1: A principled approach

146 page PDF

2.9MB

Part 1: A principled approach

1. Fixing the principles in legislation

Icon representing fixing the principles in legislation

In Part 1 of this consultation document, we will talk about how we will develop a social security system that is based on a distinctively Scottish guiding vision and set of principles. We look at how our vision and principles can be reflected in the following ways:

  • In our legislation;
  • In our outcomes and the user experience;
  • In deciding how to deliver social security benefits and services; and
  • In addressing equality issues

We will also consider the role that independent advice and scrutiny can play, in keeping us to our promises and ensuring that we deliver what we say we will.

Our vision and principles

In our paper, A New Future for Social Security in Scotland [3] , we set out our vision for social security in Scotland and our five key principles.

The description for this graphic is stated below

Notes for the above graphic

A diagram showing our vision, that social security is important to all of us and able to support each of us when we need it. The diagram also shows the five principles that will underpin social security in Scotland:
1. Social security is an investment in the people of Scotland.
2. Respect for the dignity of individuals is at the heart of everything we do.
3. Our processes and services will be evidence based and designed with the people of Scotland
4. We will strive for continuous improvement in all our policies, processes and systems, putting the user experience first
5. We will demonstrate that our services are efficient and value for money

We are pleased that many people and organisations in Scotland have now welcomed our vision. For example, a representative of the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations said, "We presented a strong message to the Scottish Government that we must use the new powers to build a fairer and stronger system which supports people when they need it most. It's great to see that they listened and we look forward to seeing these principles be turned into practice . [4] "

However we also recognise that, for the time being, the vision and principles are just words. The challenge which we must meet over the coming years is to turn those words into actions. This will not happen overnight. The transfer of social security powers to Scotland, while it is not as broad a transfer as the Scottish Government has argued for, still requires a large-scale programme of transition and implementation. This will be a challenge on a scale unlike anything experienced since devolution. We will be setting up - and running - a Scottish social security system that has to work in tandem to a UK social security system.

In doing this, we must make certain that no-one falls through the gaps. We are clear that our first and absolute priority is to ensure a smooth transition for everyone who looks to social security for help and support and who depends on the Scottish Government getting it right and paying the money they need to them, on time and at the right amount.

By the end of the process - when we have made our legislation, designed our systems and processes, opened our agency and started taking applications and making payments to people in Scotland - we will have gone a long way towards fulfilling that vision. At the same time, we will also have turned a corner, away from a social security system which many people say stigmatises and disempowers users, towards a future where social security in Scotland acts as a springboard to improve opportunities for everyone, providing protection and a safety net in times of need.

Fixing the principles in legislation

We are considering ways in which we can support our principles through legislation. In this section, you will see two possible approaches to fixing principles, such as the right of the individual to be treated with dignity and respect, in legislation. We will explain these examples and ask for your views on whether we should adopt them, to underpin our new social security system in Scotland. This does not mean choosing the 'best' option. You may think that the best approach may be to adopt more than one option, if you think that the different approaches will work better together. We will also ask if you can tell us about any other approach that might support our principles through legislation. The two approaches that we have thought of are:

  • A Claimant Charter
  • Writing principles into legislation

Option A: A 'Claimant Charter'

We believe that the delivery of social security support and services in Scotland will require an implicit social contract between the Scottish Government and the people of Scotland. This means that the Scottish Government, its officials and its social security agency should commit to treating individuals claiming benefits in a certain way, in return for our staff being treated in the same way. Rather than just being implied or unwritten, this commitment could be set out in a claimant charter.

This could be developed on a similar basis to The Charter of Patient Rights and Responsibilities [5] . This Charter was suggested in response to the findings of a public consultation on patients' rights and was introduced by the Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011.

The Scottish Government worked with Health Rights Information Scotland to develop the Charter, which is an information document that sets out what patients can expect when they use NHS services, and also details what the NHS in Scotland expects in return; to help it work effectively and make sure its resources are used responsibly. An advisory group provided guidance on the proposed format, and a detailed source document was produced, covering the full range of rights and responsibilities existing in legislation. Members of the advisory group were given the opportunity to comment on an early draft of the Charter. Thereafter, a period of user testing was carried out.

Option B: Writing principles into legislation

Another approach which has been taken, to ensure that certain rights are protected including the rights to dignity and respect, is to write the principles into the legislation. Examples of this approach can be found in the Tribunals (Scotland) Act 2014 [6] and the Welfare Funds (Scotland) Act 2015 [7] .

When the Tribunals (Scotland) Bill was considered by the Scottish Parliament,

the Parliament's Justice Committee heard from groups such as the Child Poverty Action Group and Citizens Advice Scotland, who suggested that the Bill could contain principles which would "help guarantee openness, fairness and impartiality [8] ". The Bill was amended to include a section [9] which required the Scottish Ministers, the Lord President and the President of Tribunals to have regard for the guiding principle that tribunal proceedings should be "handled quickly and effectively" and should be "accessible and fair".

In a similar way, when the Welfare Funds (Scotland) Bill was considered by the Scottish Parliament, the Parliament's Welfare Reform Committee gathered evidence from service users and their representative organisations. The Committee identified that one of the key themes running though all of the submissions and witness testimony was the danger that fund users would feel stigmatised. Third sector representatives emphasised the importance of maintaining dignity and respect when accessing the fund.

The Committee concluded that the Scottish Welfare Fund could be enhanced by outlining the importance of the principles of dignity and respect for users. The Scottish Government amended the Bill. When the Bill became an Act, it included a requirement in law [10] , for local authorities to take reasonable steps to ensure that those applying for assistance are treated with respect and that their dignity is preserved. This requirement was then carried forward into the Scottish Government's published guidance which says that, "Local authorities should ensure that applicants applying for assistance are treated with respect and their dignity is preserved [11] ".

There are some key differences between the two approaches which we have identified. For example, it's possible that we would be able to include more detail in a charter than we would be able to set out in legislation. A charter might be more accessible and more easily available for people to read and refer to than passages of legislation. On the other hand, writing the principles out in legislation might be easier to enforce in practice.

Questions
Which way do you think principles should be embedded in the legislation?

A. As a 'Claimant Charter'?
B. Placing principles in legislation?
C. Some other way, please specify

If you think option A ' a Claimant Charter' is the best way to embed principles in the legislation:

What should be in the Charter?

Should the Charter be drafted by

  • An advisory group?
  • A wider group of potential user and other groups or organisations?
  • Both
  • Some other way, please specify.

We are considering whether or not to adopt the name, "Claimant Charter". Can you think of another name that would suit this proposal better? If so, what other name would you choose?

Do you have any further comments on the 'Claimant Charter'?

If you think option B 'placing the principles in legislation' is the best way to embed principles in the legislation.

On whom would you place a duty to abide by the principle that claimants should be treated with dignity and respect?

  • The Scottish Government
  • The Scottish Ministers
  • The Chief Executive of the Social Security Agency
  • Someone else, please specify

Do you have any further comments on placing principles in legislation?

Do you have any further comments or suggestions in relation to our overall approach, to fix our principles in legislation? For example, do you feel that there is no need to fix principles in legislation?

Please explain your answer?

The description for this graphic is stated below

Notes for the above graphic

A table showing the short/medium-term and long-term outcomes for social security.

The short/medium-term outcomes are that people applying for or in receipt of Scottish benefits are:

  • treated with dignity and respect.
  • can access help and advice to claim the benefits they are entitled to.
  • supported throughout the application assessment process.
  • given a choice about how their benefits are administered.
  • have positive experience of the Scottish social security system.

The Scottish social security system is:

  • administered in a swift and streamlined manner which meets the needs of recipients.
  • accessible, user friendly and simple to access.
  • aligned effectively as possible with the reserved benefit system.
  • aligned effectively as possible with other services to help ensure recipients get the support they need.

Scottish benefits:

  • target the right people and seek to impact on poverty and inequality.
  • make a positive difference to recipients.
  • are paid to as many of those who are entitled to them as possible.
  • are paid at the right time and at the right amount to make a positive difference to recipients.

People resident in Scotland:

  • have an awareness of benefits and who and what they are for.
  • view the benefit and those who receive them positively .
  • see Scottish benefits as providing value for money .

Other public and third sector services:

  • experience less pressure due to the changes to social security in Scotland.

Alongside the health and social care system:

  • social security has a part to play in enabling wellbeing, and in particular, to enable people to live healthier lives in their community.

The long-term outcomes are that people in receipt of Scottish benefits and their families are enabled to have:

  • an increased sense of control and empowerment over their lives.
  • an increased sense of confidence and security.
  • are happier and are more resilient
  • are better able to participate in society and fulfil their potential in life.

The Scottish social security system is:

  • works effectively with the reserved benefit system.
  • effectively integrated with other services to ensure a person-centred service where recipients get the support they need when they need it.
  • advances equality by how it operates and what it delivers.

Scottish benefits continue to:

  • target the right people and are impacting on poverty and inequality.
  • be paid to as many of those who are entitled to them as possible.
  • be paid at the right time and at the right amount to make a positive difference to recipients.

People resident in Scotland:

  • view benefit recipients positively and without stigma.
  • recognise the vital role that carers fulfil in society and to the economy.
  • value social security as they do other public services.

Other public and third sector services:

  • experience less pressure due to the changes to social security in Scotland.

Alongside the health and social care system:

  • social security has a part to play in enabling wellbeing, and in particular, to enable people to live healthier lives in their community.

2. Outcomes and the user experience

Icon representing outcomes and the user experience

In March, we published a paper called, " The Strategic Case for Change and the Governance of Social Security in Scotland" [12] , which included a set of short/medium and long-term outcomes. These outcomes will inform the development of social security in Scotland and help us to evaluate its functions into the future. In other words, this list of outcomes is a statement of what we want our system to achieve. Since March, further work across the Scottish Government and with external organisations has taken place which has informed a revised set of outcomes. These are shown in the table on the previous page.

Questions
Are the outcomes (shown in the table on the previous page) the right high level outcomes to develop and measure social security in Scotland?

  • Yes, please explain why
  • No, please explain why

Are there any other outcomes that you think we should also include (and if so, why?)

The user experience

As wellas thinking about the outcomes we want to achieve, we are also considering the way in which we want to go about providing social security services in Scotland. We know from our ' Fairer Scotland' conversations [13] that the way in which existing organisations communicate with the individual can impact hugely on the user's experience and their wellbeing. The social security powers being devolved provide us with an opportunity to take a different approach.

The Scottish Parliament's Welfare Reform Committee, in its report on the Future Delivery of Social Security in Scotland [14] , recommended that all social security communications should be clear, accessible and written in plain English. Individuals should have the option to choose the method of communication that they were most comfortable with.

How we communicate makes a difference. Users have told us that one of the key problems with the current system is the negative way it makes them feel. We are aware that, for many people, accessing support can feel difficult and disjointed, adding stress to what is already often a difficult situation. In order to address this, we will ensure that the language and tone that we use when communicating with people is respectful, considered and does not stigmatise. For example, we describe the powers that are being devolved to us as powers over 'social security' and not 'welfare'. This distinction is intentional and important to us. We will work with users to ensure we use appropriate words, and challenge others to do the same.

We will also ensure that our processes and services are designed effectively to enable anyone who needs support to understand the system and access it in the way that bests suit them. Modern IT systems could underpin a more sensitive approach to this. For example, existing data could be shared, to enable online interactions that are designed for ease of use and accessibility for applicants.

We are committed to involving people who receive the devolved benefits in the design, development and testing of new systems, to ensure the technology works well for the people who need to use it. We will follow the principles of the Scottish Government's Digital First approach outlined in Scotland Digital Future [15] and those of Inclusive Communications [16] , to deliver our information services more effectively and ensure our information and guidance is accessible to all.

We will provide information in a range of accessible formats to help people understand the system and also ensure that the Scottish Government meets its statutory duties under the Equality Act 2010 [17] and responsibilities under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled People [18] to guarantee that that disabled people are not disadvantaged by communication barriers.

An important term for us, in thinking about delivering a Scottish social security system is 'co-production'. This is not a new term. The Scottish Government has actively promoted co-production in other areas such as health and social care for some time. However, because the devolution of social security to Scotland is new, this is the first time we will 'co-produce' social security systems and processes.

Co-production means enabling people to shape and co-design the services they use. It involves a process of on-going dialogue with service users and organisations, to achieve improved outcomes. There are some key principles of co-production, which are:

  • People and communities who use services are actively involved in design and delivery choices and are recognised as having assets that can help improve those services
  • People and communities are not viewed as passive consumers of services designed and delivered by someone else
  • Service users act as catalysts for change through active engagement in identifying what services are needed and how they are designed and delivered
  • Neither government nor citizens have all the resources needed to solve complex social problems on their own
  • Individuals and communities bring a real-life understanding of complex issues and have the potential to make services more efficient, effective and responsive to community need
  • Professionals, service users, families and communities are encouraged to join in active dialogue and engagement to achieve positive change

In order to co-produce social security services, we need to hear from users and people with real-life experience of the current system. That is why we will set up a range of social security 'user panels' made up of existing Scottish DWP claimants, to work with us as we design and develop a Scottish social security system. We will also consult prior to the publication of regulations and guidance and, in line with our Digital First approach, we will make sure information about how decisions are made is placed online. We intend to provide up-to-date information in a way that is responsive to the needs of service users and offers a more tailored service to deal with complex enquiries.

We have learned from the work of the Northern Ireland Social Security Agency ( NISSA) that it is possible for devolved administrations to deliver benefits cost-effectively while, at the same time, providing a user experience which maintains high-levels of user friendliness and customer satisfaction. NISSA's approach focuses on communication via the telephone to ensure that application forms, letters and other information to provide clear and timely communication throughout all processes.

Questions
How can the Scottish social security system ensure all social security communications are designed with dignity and respect at their core?

With whom should the Scottish Government consult, in order to ensure that the use of language for social security in Scotland is accessible and appropriate?

Are there any particular words or phrases that should not be used when delivering social security in Scotland?

Yes
No

Please state which words or phrases should not be used.

What else could be done to enhance the user experience?

  • When people first get in touch
  • When they are in the processes of applying for a benefit
  • When a decision is made (for example, about whether they receive a benefit)
  • When they are in receipt of a benefit

How should the Scottish social security system communicate with service users? (For example, text messaging or social media)?

What are your views on how the Scottish Government can ensure that a Scottish social security system is designed with users using a co-production and co-design approach?

We are considering whether or not to adopt the name "User Panels". Can you think of another name that would better suit the groups of existing social security claimants which we will set up?

3. Delivering social security in Scotland

Icon representing delivering social security in Scotland

In this section, we would like you to consider how we should deliver social security in Scotland. In the report which we published in March [19] , we said that:

"The social security system in Scotland can be seen to have a number of levels of delivery. This ranges from the governance of the entire system, the 'back room' delivery functions which will process applications and arrange for payments to be made etc. to the user interface where customers will interact with the system. This system is in the process of being appraised over two stages."

The paper went on to report on our initial high level appraisal around the governance of social security in Scotland and the strategic case for change. It found that the governance body should have close links to Scottish Ministers and be flexible enough to respond as the social security landscape in Scotland unfolds.

Flexibility means having the capacity to expand and take on new work as well as being able to change to doing things in a different way. For example, in the event that further social security powers are devolved to Scotland sometime in the future, the agency will need to increase its resource and expand its services to take on these new responsibilities. A central agency with access to the wider resources of the Scottish Government family was seen as being able to deliver this flexibility. So, it seemed best for social security in Scotland to sit within the Scottish Government family in order that it might be able to draw upon the strengths and resources of the parent organisation, when needed.

On the basis of the evidence we gathered, the then Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners Rights, Alex Neil MSP, announced to the Parliament in a debate on 1 March that, "we intend, after having examined all the available options, to set up a new social security agency for Scotland [20] ." We now need to determine precisely what this agency does and how it works with existing public and third sector organisations in Scotland.

In time, our new social security system, operating as a single cohesive whole, with the agency at its heart, will deliver the outcomes which we described in the previous section. This means that, in the future, we will evaluate how well our Scottish social security system is working based on (for example) its ability to ensure that people receiving Scottish benefits are treated with dignity and respect as well as the other outcomes. This section seeks your views on the best way to deliver these outcomes.

The Scottish Government has carried out a series of workshops with internal and external stakeholders. These workshops generated a list of core capabilities which must form part of the social security system in order to deliver the outcomes. (For example, the system must have the capability to make payments to claimants.)

However, the overall system, with the agency and these core capabilities embedded, could still deliver the outcomes in different ways. At one end of the possible spectrum, the system could be configured with the agency at the centre delivering all benefits, at the other end, the role of existing Scottish public sector organisations could be extended, where possible, to take on responsibility for social security.

To help us design the appropriate configuration for our Scottish social security system, we would like you to consider a Scottish social security system, with a new agency at its heart and then answer the series of questions set out below. These questions seek to gather evidence on peoples' preferences, in terms of the different ways in which the overall system could be configured.

Responses to this section will be used in of the second Stage of our appraisal of the options for delivery of social security in Scotland. Stage 2 of our options appraisal is on-going in parallel with this consultation exercise. A report on the outcome of this Stage 2 appraisal is expected to be published in early 2017, following the consultation. In that report, the Scottish Government will set out the evidence which it has gathered, on the most appropriate configuration for our Scottish social security agency and the wider system.

Questions
Should the social security agency administer all social security benefits in Scotland?

Yes
No

Please explain you answer.

Should the social security agency in Scotland be responsible for providing benefits in cash only or offer a choice of goods and cash?

Yes
No

Please explain you answer.

How best can we harness digital services for social security delivery in Scotland?

Should social security in Scotland make some provision for face to face contact?

Yes
No

Please explain you answer.

Who should deliver social security medical assessments for disability related benefits?

Should we, as much as possible, aim to deliver social security through already available public sector services and organisations?

Yes
No

Please explain you answer.

Should any aspect of social security be delivered by others such as the 3rd sector, not for profit organisations, social enterprises or the private sector?

Yes
No

If yes, which aspects?

4. Equality and low income

Icon representing equality and low income

A partial Equality Impact Assessment ( EqIA) has been developed to support the Consultation. This is available as an Annex, at the back of this document, and is 'partial' in the sense that it reflects our thinking to date. We now need your help and advice to produce a full and final EqIA to accompany the Social Security Bill.

The EqIA provides detail on the Scottish Government's engagement so far to understand the equality implications of the new social security powers. It then sets out general barriers people might face, many of which have equality implications, before discussing the individual benefits, including where we are proposing changes to existing UK benefits and how these impact on equality. There is also a brief discussion of the equality implications of the new social security agency and of appeals and tribunals.

The EqIA closes with a set of questions to enable a full EqIA to be developed once the consultation is complete and your feedback is received. These questions are set out below. However, these are not the only questions relevant to equality in this consultation - please feel free to reference equality concerns and considerations in your response to any question in this consultation.

Note that this partial EqIA also considers implications for households living on low incomes. This reflects the priority the Scottish Government places on tackling poverty and inequality, and reflects the introduction of a new socio-economic duty on public bodies in the near future. This will require public bodies to take account of socio-economic disadvantage in strategic decision-making.

Questions
How can the Scottish Government improve its partial EqIA so as to produce a full EqIA to support the Bill?

These prompts could be helpful in framing your answer:

  • What does the Scottish Government need to do, as it develops a Scottish social security system, to ensure that equality implications are fully taken into account?
  • What does the Scottish Government need to do, as it develops a Scottish social security system, to ensure that any implications for those on low incomes are fully taken into account?
  • Are there equality considerations for individual benefits that you would like to draw to our attention?
  • Are there considerations about individual benefits for those on low incomes that you would like to draw to our attention?
  • What are your views on how we can best gather equality information for the new Scottish benefits?
  • What does the Scottish Government need to do to ensure that its social security legislation (including secondary legislation and guidance) aligns its vision and principles with equality for all those who need assistance through Social Security support?
  • What does the Scottish Government need to do to ensure that a Scottish social security system provides the right level of support for those who need it, and what are the possible equality impacts of this?

5. Independent advice and scrutiny

Icon representing independent advice and scrutiny

In our paper " A New Future for Social Security in Scotland [21] ",which we published in March, we said that:

"Once we implement our new powers, the Scottish and UK Governments will 'share competence' and both will be accountable for delivering elements of social security in Scotland. This will require new and innovative approaches to inter-governmental working, scrutiny and oversight. We believe that the work of our agency, and our social security policy choices, should be supported by independent, expert analysis and scrutiny - both of the impact that we are able to have on devolved areas of responsibility and of the impact that the UK social security system has in Scotland ."

In this section we will consider key points in relation to the independent, advice and scrutiny of our new Scottish social security arrangements.

Current arrangements

At the present time, there are two independent, statutory UK social security advisory committees which scrutinise draft regulations and provide advice to DWP Ministers on social security matters. These two committees are:

  • The Social Security Advisory Committee ( SSAC)
  • The Industrial Injuries Advisory Council ( IIAC)

Members of both Committees are appointed by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and are drawn from representatives of business, employees, social security law, academia, and in the case of the IIAC, the scientific sector. Each committee is supported by a secretariat of DWP staff.

The UK Government has decided that, after devolution, the role of the SSAC and IIAC should remain unchanged and that both Committees should provide advice to UK Ministers and NISSA only. In the House of Lords debate on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, Lord Dunlop (speaking for the UK Government) said that:

"The roles of the SSAC and IIAC are to remain unchanged. Scottish Ministers, however, will not be able to refer their draft regulations to these bodies for consideration. Once legislative competence has been given to the Scottish Parliament it may, if it wishes, put in place separate scrutiny bodies to consider legislative proposals made by the Scottish Government within the scope of the legislative competence and report back to Scottish Ministers."

The UK Government's position is that the UK and Scottish Governments would be best served by separate scrutiny bodies that can advise each government on their respective proposals. This means that the Scottish Parliament will be able to determine arrangements for the future scrutiny of social security in Scotland. These could include provision for a body to report independently to the Holyrood Parliament, in addition to advising the Scottish Ministers.

The Scottish Government wishes to consult with individuals and users on the way in which a Scottish social security scrutiny body might be set up. In considering these questions, it may be helpful to be aware of the way in which the Committees are currently established.

The existing UK Committees are set up on a statutory basis [22] and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has a duty in law, to refer proposals for changes to secondary legislation (regulations) to the Committees. Further details as to the operation of the Committees, how the Secretary of State should go about appointing members, the number of members, the length of time for which individuals may serve as members of the Committees, powers to reimburse Committee members and pay expenses and other practicalities are also set out in legislation [23] .

At present, the Committees assist DWP in the following ways:

  • They scrutinise most of the proposed regulations that underpin the social security system and provide advice on them to the Secretary of State
  • They provide advice and assistance, whether in response to a specific request or on their own initiative
  • They respond to public consultation exercises, where appropriate
  • They respond to specific requests for advice from ministers and officials
  • They undertake detailed studies as part of their independent work programme providing comment on draft guidance and communications produced by DWP and HMRC

Proposals for independent scrutiny

The Scottish Government has a good record of engaging positively with expert advisors on social security and welfare matters as it did when it formed the Expert Working Group on Welfare. We are now seeking views on whether there should be an independent body, however constituted, to provide expert analysis and scrutiny of our new Scottish social security arrangements.

Although the Expert Working Group was not set up on a statutory basis and did not scrutinise draft legislation, it was able to provide valuable insight and advice to the Scottish Government. It may be, therefore, that there is no need for a scrutiny body to be set up on a statutory basis - provided it is able to maintain positive relationships with the Scottish Government of the day and other relevant interest groups. Over time, custom and practice would also provide a degree of permanence as it would be difficult to disestablish an independent scrutiny body without good reason.

That said, the Scottish Government recognises that setting up an independent scrutiny body on a statutory basis sends a clear message to the membership of the body as well as other interest groups, that the body's constitution and permanence is assured. It is less clear, however, that the UK approach to fixing various practical arrangements for the operation of the existing SSAC adds value, particularly the way in which the SSAC remit, is fixed on the face of the Act by reference to a long list of legislation [24] , rather than the more general way that the remit of the IIAC is described [25] .

Questions
Do you think that there is a need for an independent body to be set up to scrutinise Scottish social security arrangements?

Yes
No

Please explain your answer.

If you agree, does the body need to be established in law or would administrative establishment by the Scottish government of the day be sufficient?

Yes
No

Please explain your answer.

If yes, what practical arrangements should be made for the independent body (for example, the law could state how appointments to it are made and the length of time an individual may serve as a member of the body)?

Further considerations

There are also further questions to address such as: the role that an independent body could play in relation to the existing Committees of the Scottish Parliament, how it could tackle cross-border issues and how it could interact with the UK social security system. If the Government decides to set up an independent scrutiny body (whether it is established in statute or not), then it would propose to consult in more detail on these issues.

Independent scrutiny of standards

Finally, in this section - in addition to scrutiny, we are exploring whether there might be a need for an independent function to oversee standards. In the past, DWP had a Decision Making Standards Committee, which reported to the Chief Executives of Jobcentre Plus, the Pensions Service and the Disability and Carers Service. The committee advised on the accuracy of reports, on standards of decision making, recommended improvements in decision making and considered specific issues on request. That body was abolished and the Administrative Justice & Tribunals Council ( AJTC) took on the task, until it too was abolished. The AJTC also had a wider role across government.

Questions
Should there be a statutory body to oversee Scottish social security decision making standards?

Yes
No

Please explain your answer.

If yes, should this be a separate body in its own right?

Yes
No

Please explain your answer.

Do you have any other views about the independent scrutiny of social security arrangements in Scotland (e.g. alternative approaches)?


Contact

Email: Edward Orr, consult.socialsecurityscotland@gov.scot