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

4. Monitoring: challenges and implications

The capability to carry out monitoring and evaluation is of vital importance to the achievement of principle (g) “opportunities are to be sought to continuously improve the Scottish social security system in ways which (i) put the needs of those who require assistance first and (ii) advance equality and non-discrimination” and principle (b) “social security is itself a human right and essential to the realisation of other human rights”[20]

During our discussion with Social Security Scotland officials they noted difficulties in identifying the exact numbers of displaced people previously resident in Ukraine accessing the Scottish social security system, particularly in relation to the “super sponsor scheme”. Social Security Scotland do not specifically ask on application forms if a client is part of one of the resettlement schemes as a matter of course, though their immigration status would be highlighted if they are applying for a disability benefit. For low income benefits, where someone is not in receipt of a qualifying benefit, or if they fall into another exception group (e.g. under the age of 18 or have a partner who receives a qualifying benefit) this information may not be provided. It is clearly important to consider how many people have been affected by these Regulations and their general impact in order to learn lessons for the future, so that these can be applied in similar situations.

The Scottish Government accepted our observation pertaining to the needs of refugees and the requirement for staff to understand the barriers they faced, highlighting that a lessons learnt exercise was being conducted to formalise tailored support for future Afghan refugees. This is to be welcomed.

Recommendation 5: In view of difficulties in identifying exact numbers of displaced people previously resident in Ukraine accessing devolved social security, and noting exact numbers may not be required, Social Security Scotland should nonetheless consider the implications for learning directly from specific communities on their experiences of accessing support and put in place systems that can support continuous improvement directed towards these communities.