Audit Scotland praises progress in setting up new social security service

By Agencies
March 29, 2018

Scotland’s public services watchdog has said ‘good early progress’ has been made in setting up the country’s new social security service.

Audit Scotland’s report highlights that establishment of the new agency – Social Security Scotland – and delivery of the first benefits are on track.

Audit Scotland indicates that Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have a major role to play in the transfer of the 11 newly devolved benefits.

The Scottish Government is calling for the DWP to confirm its detailed plans for the safe and secure transfer of these benefits and to demonstrate that the DWP can match the Scottish Government’s pace.

Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman said, “This is the most significant transfer of powers since devolution and I am pleased Audit Scotland recognises the progress we have made so far in building this new public service.

“We are confident that we are on track against our plans. However, as highlighted by Audit Scotland, it is crucial that we have clarity and confirmation – and that we understand what the DWP’s detailed plans are. We cannot deliver this in isolation and we need to know that the DWP is able to match our pace.

“We have followed Audit Scotland recommendations from previous reports on major programmes. We recognise the significant amount of work still to be done as we continue the programme to transfer powers, bring forward legislation and build the infrastructure we need. We are confident that we have robust plans in place and a full understanding of our overarching costs and are on track to deliver benefits to Scotland’s people.”

Around 50 per cent of spending will be raised directly in Scotland by 2020, following the Scotland Acts of 2012 and 2016. A number of new responsibilities – including around £3 billion of annual social security payments – are being devolved.

The Auditor General Caroline Gardner said, "Putting the Scottish Parliament’s new financial powers and social security responsibilities into action is a huge and highly complex piece of work.

"More detailed workforce analysis and a much more transparent picture around overall costs are needed to ensure the right people and infrastructure are in place in time.

"Good early progress has been made on the government's social security plans but they are now at a critical point."

* Read  the report Managing the implementation of the Scotland Acts here

* Audit Scotland

* Scottish Government

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