New agency will handle benefits payments

Social Justice Minister Alex NeilSocial Justice Minister Alex Neil
Social Justice Minister Alex Neil
Dignity and respect will be at the heart of a new agency set to handle billions of pounds of benefits in Scotland.

Speaking in the first Scottish Parliament debate since the deal to transfer welfare powers to Holyrood was agreed, Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil confirmed there would be a phased transition of the administration of powers over the next few years.

As set out in the Programme for Government, Scottish Ministers have already committed to the introduction of a Social Security Bill in the 2016-17 parliamentary session – that bill will establish a new Scottish social security agency to oversee the administration of the devolved benefits.

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The Scottish Government has outlined its new social security powers will be founded on treating people with dignity and respect.

Mr Neil said: “The Scottish Government has already set out our intention to support carers by increasing the Carer’s Allowance to the same level as Jobseeker’s Allowance. We will abolish the bedroom tax at the earliest opportunity and we will support those on Universal Credit by introducing new flexibilities on how it is paid.

“In taking on responsibility for social security payments, our priority is to ensure that everyone receives the payments they are entitled to, when they are entitled to them.

“Our new Scottish social security agency will be the flagship organisation that oversees the delivery of benefits in Scotland. It will be underpinned by our commitment to principles that will treat people with dignity and respect.

“We want to take a fairer approach to social security that tackles inequalities.”