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Publication - Consultation Paper

Social Security in Scotland: consultation (summary version)

Published: 29 Jul 2016
Part of:
Communities and third sector
ISBN:
9781786523747

The shortened version of the consultation on the future of social security including policy, delivery and operational issues.

33 page PDF

992.0kB

33 page PDF

992.0kB

Contents
Social Security in Scotland: consultation (summary version)
Part 1: A Principled Approach

33 page PDF

992.0kB

Part 1: A Principled Approach

In Part 1, we will 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 best to deliver social security benefits and services
  • 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.

This summary version of the full consultation only provides limited text. To see all of the consultation text please click here to access the full consultation [2] .

Icon representing fixing the principles in legislation Fixing the principles in legislation

We are considering ways in which we can support our principles, such as the right of the individual to be treated with dignity and respect, in legislation.
The two options that we have considered are:

Option A - A Claimant Charter - creating an implicit social contract between the Scottish Government and the people of Scotland - meaning 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 [3] , which 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.

Option B: Writing principles into legislation - for example, the forthcoming Social Security Bill, to be informed by this consultation, could contain principles which would help guarantee dignity and respect through openness, fairness and impartiality for all. Examples of this approach can be found in the Tribunals (Scotland) Act 2014 [4] and the Welfare Funds (Scotland) Act 2015 [5] .

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. We would like your views on these two approaches.

Please click here to go to the section on our principles in the full consultation document

Icon representing outcomes and the user experience Outcomes and the user experience

The Scottish Government has worked with individuals, groups and organisations to develop a set of high-level short/medium and long-term outcomes. In March, we published a paper called, " The Strategic Case for Change and the Governance of Social Security in Scotland", [6] which included a set of short/medium and long-term outcomes. These outcomes will inform the social security system 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. The table below sets out these short, medium and longer term outcomes.

Diagram showing the short/medium and long-term outcomes

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.

As well as 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. This includes ensuring that:

  • Communications are clear and written in Plain English with respectful language and tone which does not stigmatise
  • Individuals have the option to choose the method of communication that they are most comfortable with
  • We involve people who receive the devolved benefits, or in other words 'co-produce' the design, development and testing of new systems, to ensure the technology works well for the people who need to use it. Modern IT systems could underpin a more sensitive approach to this

We would like your views on the outcomes which we have identified. In particular, we would like to know if you think there are any other outcomes, which should also be considered.

Please click here to go to the section on outcomes in our full consultation document

Icon representing delivering social security in Scotland Delivering social security in Scotland

In this section, we would like you to consider how we should deliver social security in Scotland. On 1 March, 2016, the then Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners Rights, Alex Neil MSP, announced to the Scottish Parliament that, "we intend, after having examined all the available options, to set up a new social security agency for Scotland [7] ."

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 table on page 7. 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 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 to take on responsibility for social security.

The Scottish Government has already carried out a series of workshops with internal and external stakeholders to consider what is needed to deliver social security in Scotland. To help us progress this work, we would like your views on a Scottish social security system, with a new agency at its heart. The following prompts may be of some help, when you are thinking about this:

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

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

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

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?

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

Please click here to go to the section on delivery in our full consultation document

Icon representing independent advice and scrutiny Independent advice and scrutiny

At the present time, there are two independent, UK social security advisory committees, called the Social Security Advisory Committee and the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council, which scrutinise draft regulations and provide advice to Ministers in the Department for Work and Pensions ( DWP) on social security matters.

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 the scientific sector.

The UK Government has decided that, after devolution, both committees should provide advice to UK Ministers and the Northern Ireland Social Security Agency only. This means that the Scottish Parliament will be able to determine arrangements for the future scrutiny of social security in Scotland. We would like to know if you think there should be an independent scrutiny body in Scotland, like the existing committees, after devolution and, if you do, how you would like a Scottish social security scrutiny body to be set up.

We are also 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 and recommended improvements. We would like you to tell us if you think there should be a statutory body to oversee Scottish social security decision making standards and how you think that body should operate.

Please click here to go to the section on independent scrutiny in our full consultation document

Questions

If you have printed this document or are reading it in paper form, please use the space provided below to write down your answers for Part 1. Please use additional paper if you wish.

In Part 1, we have set out approaches and proposals on:

  • Fixing the principles in legislation
  • Delivering social security
  • Independent advice and scrutiny

You may want to provide feedback on all of these or just some of them. Please tell us which proposals you are providing feedback on when you answer the two key questions below:

What do you think about the proposals outlined in Part 1?

Do you have any further views on the topics covered in Part 1?


Contact

Email: Edward Orr, edward.orr@gov.scot