Scotland Policy Conferences

Next steps in implementing social security reform and tackling poverty in Scotland

Morning, Thursday, 5th December 2019

Central Edinburgh


This seminar will discuss the delivery of the new Scottish welfare system - and the latest thinking more widely on tackling poverty.

The conference will be an opportunity to discuss progress and emerging issues as The Scottish Government continues its phased roll-out of the new social security system, including the implementation of the Best Start nursery age payment, Best Start school payment, Funeral Expense Assistance and Young Carer Grant. 

Delegates will assess how to address the challenges for ensuring effective delivery of the Scottish social security system, and what can be learnt from experience so far.

It follows Audit Scotland’s recent Social Security: Implementing the Devolved Powers report which found that the first two benefits have been delivered well but warned that challenges remain in delivering the next 11 benefits with the next stages of implementation expected to be increasingly complex.

Areas for discussion include priorities for improved delivery, ensuring payments are made correctly and on time, and focusing on the needs and rights of the individual as embodied in the new Social Security Charter.

We also expect discussion on transparency and openness about how much is being spent on different policies, following concerns expressed in the Poverty and Inequality Commission’s response to The Scottish Government’s Budget which also called for increased spending if the Government is to meet its targets for tackling poverty.

Further sessions consider the impact that the new social security system in Scotland is likely to make in reducing poverty by ensuring that benefits are adequate, which is also enshrined in the Charter. 

We also expect discussion on how to tackle some of the factors contributing to poverty such as:

  • The impact on employment and social isolation of lack of adequate public transport and transport infrastructure, particularly outside the central belt in Scotland;
  • Concerns surrounding the availability of social housing; and
  • The financial barriers of childcare. 

Keynote Speaker

Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP

Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, The Scottish Government

Keynote Speakers

Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP

Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, The Scottish Government

Miriam Craven

Head of Local Delivery and Client Experience, Social Security Scotland

Bill Scott

Chair, Poverty and Inequality Commission

Dame Susan Rice

Chair, Scottish Fiscal Commission


Shona Robison MSP

Member, Social Security Committee, The Scottish Parliament and former Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, 2014-18, The Scottish Government

Pauline McNeill MSP

Deputy Convenor, Social Security Committee, The Scottish Parliament


Gemma Diamond

Senior Manager, Audit Scotland

Sally Thomas

Chief Executive, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations

Andrew Latto

Deputy Director, Devolution Policy, DWP

Robin McAlpine

Director, Common Weal

John Dickie

Director, Child Poverty Action Group

Dr Pete Seaman

Acting Associate Director, Glasgow Centre for Population Health

Derek Mitchell

Chief Executive, Citizens Advice Scotland

Peter Kelly

Director, Poverty Alliance

Councillor Kelly Parry

Spokesperson, Community Wellbeing, COSLA