Launching Social Security Scotland
As part of the devolution of powers arising from the Smith Commission, The Scottish Government are taking responsibility for delivering social security benefits directly to citizens of Scotland for the first time. This is the most significant devolution of powers to Scotland in over 20 years and required the establishment of a new agency, Social Security Scotland, to support the transition of a number of Low Income and Disability Benefits from the UK Government.
To deliver on these new powers the Scottish Government set out an ambitious schedule to launch these benefits to the people of Scotland with the first wave of benefits to be launched for low income families from late 2018 through 2019. At the heart of this was a major transformational change in how services are designed and delivered with the people of Scotland and with the core principle of treating everyone with dignity, fairness and respect. This required a fundamentally different approach to defining the organisation, processes and technology which was centred on the needs of the citizens, to be delivered at pace and with flexibility to support the growth of benefits in the future.
The Scottish Government engaged IBM as its delivery partner for this first phase, with IBM bringing industry experience in delivering social security benefit platforms through enterprise user-centred design and agile delivery methods.
Working together in joint teams the programme engaged with users and stakeholder groups at every stage of the delivery, providing opportunity for citizens across the country to get involved in design and development of the new services. Over 1350 people participated, including individual citizens, agency advisors, and a broad range of wider stakeholder groups. These were hosted in over 40 locations with hundreds of research sessions enabling the identification of the needs of diverse groups and allowed concepts to be iteratively tested with different communities across all areas of Scotland.
Through this highly-collaborative partnership, Scottish Government have established the new agency and successfully launched 7 new benefits, paying out over £190 million to nearly 100,000 households, establishing a modern, secure, flexible and scalable platform for the future and most importantly making a material difference to the lives of the people the services are helping.