The Social Security (Residence Requirements) (Ukraine) (Scotland) Regulations 2022: scrutiny report

The Scottish Commission on Social Security's scrutiny report on the Social Security (Residence Requirements) (Ukraine) (Scotland) Regulations 2022

2. Delivery, partners and co-ordination

Clearly, successful delivery is necessary for the ultimate realisation of the policy intent, conformity with human rights and social security principles, notably principle (h) “the Scottish social security system is to be efficient and deliver value for money” which may have particular implications for delivery. Moreover, three of the four parts to the Charter concern delivery.  In scrutinising Regulations, therefore, we always need to consider how and if they can be translated into delivery.

These Regulations are the second set of emergency regulations related to displaced people from across the world in the space of a year, with significant implications for the Scottish Government and Social Security Scotland. It is clear from the evidence gathered that these scenarios result in delivery challenges, including for a wide range of delivery partners. While progress has been made in planning for such eventualities, it would be valuable to understand and analyse the impact of these events and consider a plan for similar future scenarios that allows for the learning to be implemented in future. That would be consistent with principle (g) which outlines that opportunities are to be sought to continuously improve the Scottish social security system.

The need to pause the Scottish Government’s super sponsor scheme illustrates the point. It had been originally anticipated that 3,000 displaced people previously resident in Ukraine would be welcomed to Scotland under the scheme[13]. However, by 16 August 2022, 14,247 displaced people previously resident in Ukraine had arrived in Scotland, 76% of whom were sponsored by the Scottish Government under this scheme. In total, 29,803 visas have been issued naming a Scottish sponsor though 63% of these people have yet to arrive in Scotland[14].

The super sponsor scheme should make a significant contribution to the rights of displaced people previously resident in Ukraine coming to Scotland and the removal of residency criteria for devolved social security for them is accommodated by these Regulations. This approach supports realisation of principle (b) (social security is itself a human right and essential to the realisation of other human rights), principle (e) (the Scottish social security system is to contribute to reducing poverty in Scotland( and principle (g) (i) (opportunities should be sought to continuously improve the Scottish social security system in ways which put the needs of those who require assistance first). The higher than anticipated demand, however, creates significant delivery challenges across the public sector, and it means those principles cannot be put into practice.

SCoSS recognises that not all displaced people previously resident in Ukraine are likely to be eligible for devolved benefits, so the impact on Social Security Scotland may be lower than for other parts of the public sector in Scotland. Nonetheless, assurance would be welcome that Social Security Scotland is equipped to deal with the potentially increased demand. In particular, a much bigger scale of demand may place pressure on capacity to meet Charter expectations.

Recommendation 1: In view of the delivery challenges across the public sector generated by significantly greater than expected take-up of the super-sponsor scheme, the Scottish Government and Social Security Scotland should place particular importance on planning for and monitoring of whether expectations in ‘Our Charter’ continue to be fulfilled[15].

As we noted in our report on the Afghanistan Regulations, the extent to which Regulations of this sort support the realisation of other human rights, principle (b), may be contingent on the efficacy of co-ordination with other forms of support. A Scottish Government cross-government task force supports the Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development and has set up welcome hubs for those settling in Scotland from Ukraine We were informed that the number of settings across Scotland hosting people from Ukraine was increasing all the time and these hubs were acting as focal points for accessing information on a wide range of support.

The task force coordinates directly with local authorities on processes and multiple partners clearly play a role in delivering the schemes, along with Social Security Scotland and local authorities. This is in keeping with the expectation in Our Charter[16] that Social Security Scotland works with “other public services to support delivery of the National Outcomes”. Other partners, in this case, include DWP, the hotel sector, and third sector organisations. The latter have played a vital role in providing direct support to displaced people previously resident in Ukraine to enter Scotland and connection them with other services. That includes social security.

However, the Explanatory Note at the end of the draft Regulations states that “No Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA) has been prepared for these Regulations as no impact on business, charities or voluntary bodies is foreseen”. Moreover, the Policy Note states that “The Scottish Government has no reason to consider that these amendments will have an adverse impact on the competitiveness of Scottish companies or the third sector within Scotland, the UK, or elsewhere in Europe or the rest of the world.”[17] However, the impact of the schemes in Scotland on a range of bodies may be significant.

Recommendation 2: While it may be hard to disentangle the specific impact of these draft Regulations from the provision of different kinds of support to displaced people previously resident in Ukraine, there is therefore a case for reviewing this, where possible identifying the impact on different partners and learning from experience, in preparation for any similar future occurrence, to ensure all partners have capacity to deliver.

It may also be worth noting that Charter expectation 3:10 says “encourage other organisations working in social security to adopt the approach described in Our Charter”. The inter-agency approach required to deliver the policy intent may provide an opportunity to take that forward.

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