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Research at Ulster has had multiple impacts on the development of Scotland’s new devolved social security system since 2016. The research shaped the Scottish Government’s (SG) understanding of what dignity and respect could mean in Scotland’s social security system and impacted directly on how the SG operationalised these principles.

This included the use of participatory methods to co-produce a statutory Social Security Charter, which in turn generated a transformative experience for the social security claimants involved.

Our research guided the Scottish Parliament’s (SP) Social Security Committee scrutiny of the Social Security Bill, forming the basis for its key recommendations to the SG.

This shaped the content of the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 on legal and political accountability mechanisms to ensure compliance with the social security principles and Charter.

Legislative provisions determining how secondary legislation is made under the Act, through a unique ‘super-affirmative’ parliamentary procedure involving pre-legislative scrutiny by an independent statutory body, flow directly from our research.

The status and purpose of this independent body was determined by the SG on the basis of our research recommendations. This new scrutiny process has in turn resulted in changes to secondary legislation that have had direct impact on social security claimants.

  • Research Context 

    The impact reported flows from the Ulster’s world-leading, interdisciplinary research in social justice and human rights.

    The authors have acknowledged policy and academic expertise on social security and wider social policy issues under devolution, including through McKeever’s appointment by the UK government to the UK’s Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) (2014-present) and Gray’s experience in influencing policy development through membership of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Anti-Poverty Strategy Task Group (2012-16), while Simpson’s research was key to his appointment (2019-present) by the SG as a founding member of the Scottish Commission on Social Security.

  • Sources To Corroborate 
    • Testimonial from SG policy officials, Legislation and Operational Policy Unit, Social Security Directorate, Scottish Government and Operational Policy Team, Social Security Scotland (impact  on SG officials and their advice to the Minister for Social Security covering meaningful participation, co-production of Charter, redress mechanisms to expand political and legal accountability for the Charter’s principles and creation of new organisational culture)
    • Disability and Carers Benefits Expert Advisory Group working group report (pp10-11) and Chair’s testimonial (impact  on Group’s recommendations to Minister for Social Security)
    • Testimonial from the Social Security Committee Clerk (impact in enabling Committee members to understand how dignity and respect could be operationalised, what to consider in its scrutiny of the Bill and impact  on its recommendation on a scrutiny body)
    • Social Security Committee, Official Report and Scottish Parliament TV, 14/09/2017 (record of Professor Gráinne McKeever’s oral evidence to the Committee)
    • SP Social Security Committee Stage 1 report on the Social Security (Scotland) Bill (citation and its recommendation to set up a statutory scrutiny body)
    • SG policy paper for Social Security Committee, 12/02/2018 (acceptance by Minister for Social Security of the recommendation to establish a statutorily independent scrutiny body)
    • Letter from Scottish Minister for Social Security to the Social Security Committee, 17/01/2018 (acceptance by the Minister for Social Security of the recommendation to establish a statutorily independent scrutiny  and details of SG amendment to the Bill to achieve this)
    • Annual report of the Scottish Commission on Social Security (SCoSS) (highlights key changes to draft social security Regulations resulting from SCoSS’s recommendations)
    • SP Official Report, Meeting of the Parliament, 02/10/2018, col.28 (Opposition amendment to Social Security (Scotland) Bill), to embed co-production as best practice)
    • SP Official Report, Social Security Committee, 31/01/2019, col.3 (reporting claimant testimonial on the co-production process)
    • SP Official Report, Social Security Committee, 2/11/2017, col.15 (Minister for Social Security’s explanation to the Committee why R1 was useful)