Throughout this document, we will refer to our paper, A New Future for Social Security in Scotland, which we published in March. In that paper, the Scottish Government made a commitment to work with people across Scotland to determine how best to use the new social security powers which will be devolved by the Scotland Act 2016. We believe that there should be opportunities for everyone to participate in the debates and decisions that matter to them, regardless of their circumstances or backgrounds. This consultation document and the events and engagement sessions that we will hold after its publication represents the next step in facilitating this participation. Holding an inclusive, informed and wide-ranging discussion will be essential to our successful implementation of our new social security powers.
It is important in beginning this conversation to set the context – which means being clear about some of the constraints we face and the limitations to what we can and can’t do. This is not about making excuses – it is about being realistic and not making promises that can’t be kept. The simple fact of the matter is that the proportion of the Scottish social security budget that will devolve to Scotland amounts to only £2.7 billion or 15% of the total £17.5 billion spent here every year.
That said, the Scottish Government still intends to take an ambitious, new and distinctly different path to the one the UK Government has followed. Within the share of the system we will inherit, we will harness 100% of the powers we have to our values and our principles, in order to support our people, tackle inequalities and take a step towards building a fairer Scotland.
We are well aware of the challenge we face. Transferring the devolved benefits will require a large-scale programme of transition, implementation and, where appropriate, reform. This will be of a scale unlike anything the Scottish Government has delivered since devolution. And when we are finished, we will be running a Scottish social security system in tandem with a UK social security system.
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We recognise that this consultation is lengthy and, at times, complex but we still want to make it as accessible as possible. That is why we have published a shorter, summary version which can be accessed at the link below.
We have made accessible alternative versions, including Easy Read which is also available at the link below. The consultation is also available in alternate formats on request, including large print, braille, BSL and other languages and you can request these by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling us on 0131 244 7763. We are also happy to receive responses in alternative formats, e.g. spoken responses, other languages etc. British Sign Language (BSL) users can contact us via http://contactscotland-bsl.org.
We are also arranging an extensive programme of stakeholder events, which will take place throughout the consultation period. These are being organised in partnership with a range of representative groups and other organisations. We hope that these events will provide opportunities for as many people who want to take part as possible, to come along to an accessible, friendly event and have their say. We will circulate details of these stakeholder events in our weekly newsletter which is sent out every Friday. If you would like details of our stakeholder events, you can sign up for our newsletter here, email us or phone 0131 244 7763.