Social Security Secretary hails ‘swift progress’ on benefits move

Scotland’s Social Security Secretary has spoken of the challenges and opportunities ahead as she marked a year since Holyrood approved legislation to see the introduction of a new benefits system north of the border.

The Social Security (Scotland) Bill was passed unanimously at the Scottish Parliament on April 25 2018.

It is moving responsibility for 11 welfare benefits to Scotland, ultimately worth about £3 billion a year, in the “single biggest transfer of powers since devolution began”.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said that £197 million in benefit payments has been made by the Scottish Government to more than 77,000 people in the past 12 months.

Social Security Scotland has established a head office in Dundee and a second site in Glasgow, with around 400 people employed across both bases.

Ms Somerville said: “Over the past year, we have put the biggest transfer of powers since devolution into practice.

“Progress has been swift and I am delighted within a year we have both the legislation and infrastructure of Scotland’s newest public service.

“We can be pleased with the success we have achieved so far and that Social Security Scotland is now delivering for the people of Scotland every day, with much more to come.

“There are challenges ahead, and also many opportunities. To increase the financial support to those who need it and to ensure our social security system treats people with respect and dignity.

“I have laid out my plans for the benefits that will be introduced this year and for the future delivery of devolved benefits.

“Responsibility for all devolved benefits, including their funding, will be with the Scottish Government from April 1 next year, with the rollout of disability assistance starting shortly after.

“It is through disability assistance we can make the biggest difference to the largest number of people, particularly through reform of an assessments system that causes stress and anxiety. And at all times involving people in how we do that, designing a system with people and for people.”

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