SNP ‘clueless’ about where to put 400 new benefits staff

The SNP government has admitted it has no idea where in Scotland it’s going to place hundreds of new staff working for the country’s new benefits agency.

An estimated 400 staff will be hired to work in councils across Scotland to help deliver the newly-devolved powers to communities.

However, social security secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville has admitted her government doesn’t know where these individuals will be based, or how many are needed in each area.

She said in response to a parliamentary question: “An estimated 400 staff will be recruited to all Scottish local authority areas to provide face-to-face advice once Social Security Scotland is fully operational. An estimate by location is not available at this time.”

Shadow social security secretary Michelle Ballantyne said the nationalists were “clueless” about local demands, and that some geographical work must have taken place for in order to arrive at the figure of 400.

Last month, the Scottish Conservatives revealed just two council areas had secured new benefit officers, even though ministers had said all 32 local authority areas would have a Social Security Scotland presence.

Scottish Conservative shadow social security secretary Michelle Ballantyne said:

“For years the SNP has complained about not having the powers it wants on welfare.

“But now that they’re being delivered, the nationalists have been found to be completely clueless on what’s actually needed.

“For the SNP government to be hiring 400 staff to work in local offices, you’d think it would have some idea about local demands.

“But like everything else with the SNP, warm words have been followed by no action whatsoever.

“The SNP government is about to find out just how difficult it is to run a fair and sustainable welfare system.”