Ensuring social security benefits are accessible to all who are eligible will be vital in helping people on low incomes deal with the aftermath of the pandemic, Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison has said.
Scotland’s newBenefit Take Up Strategybuilds on learning from the first strategy, published in 2019, and outlines plans to make sure that nobody misses out on financial support due to a lack of awareness or barriers to applying.
Since the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 was passed, the Scottish Government has delivered 11 benefits – seven of which are brand new and unique to Scotland, and the four others replace UK Government benefits.
When planned benefits are fully rolled out, Social Security Scotland is expected to make payments to 1.8 million children and adults – around one in three people in Scotland.
Actions from the latest benefit take-up strategy include:
working with partners to improve targeting of information and advice
challenging myths and stigma around claiming benefits
continuing to remove barriers to accessing social security in Scotland
The Scottish Government will also explore the introduction of automatic payment for certain devolved social security benefits to make it as easy as possible for people to maximise their incomes.
"We have seen good levels of take up of the Scottish Child Payment and Best Start Payments, which support families on low incomes, with initial estimates ranging between 77% and 84%. As part of our national mission to tackle poverty we are determined that everybody should be able to access payments they are due," said Robison. "We will invest £10 million over this Parliament to increase advice services with a focus on providing these in accessible settings and targeting families."
James is the Editor of Government Transformation magazine, and has been covering digital government and public sector reform for 20 years. He also oversees the development of the UK's biggest network of public sector transformation conferences.