Audit Scotland have published a report today (Thursday 2nd May) which concludes the Scottish Government “does not have a clear understanding of the key things needed to deliver all remaining benefits” and identifies a range of issues with the system as it stands.
Audit Scotland said the SNP were finding it “harder than expected” to take on new welfare controls, and have even spent £7.3 million this year handing powers back to the UK Government.
With a 30% vacancy rate at Social Security Scotland, almost as much is being spent on temporary and contractor staff than they are on permanent workers, the report adds
The damming conclusion of the report is that “The Scottish Government found delivery on its initial commitments harder than expected,” adding that the current systems in place “will not be enough to support the delivery of the second wave” of powers.
The report comes after a debate in Westminster led by local MP John Lamont last month which highlighted that the Scottish Government were going to take nearly nine years to take on all the benefits which were devolved in 2016.
Commenting, John Lamont said: “This is an important issue because over one million Scots, including many thousands in the Borders are due to get their benefits paid to them by the Scottish Government.
“This independent report highlights spiralling costs and a failure by the SNP to properly consider what it is trying to achieve. It also shows that the Scottish Government are paying the DWP millions of pounds to administer the very benefits they have been demanding.
“People in the Borders will rightly be concerned that the Scottish Government might not be ready to take on control over these benefits.
“It is astonishing that this is in such a mess, given that the SNP have spent the past decade criticising the UK Government’s welfare policies.”
Audit Scotland’s ‘Social Security: Implementing the devolved powers’ report is published here: http://www.audit-scotland.gov.uk/report/social-security-implementing-the-devolved-powers