Today it has been reported that processing times for child disability payment applications have risen to more than 100 days. That represents just the latest failure of Social Security Scotland to deliver for people who are in need. Does the First Minister believe that those shocking delays embody “dignity, fairness and respect”?
I understand that Jeremy Balfour has been invited to visit the agency if he wishes. I do not know whether he has taken it up, but the invitation to him to do so remains. The agency will be able to talk him through the numerous actions that it is taking to reduce processing times.
I do not disagree with Jeremy Balfour that the processing times are far longer than we want them to be. The Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice and I have spoken at great length and in great detail about a number of actions that the agency is taking. I will ensure that she responds to Jeremy Balfour with full details of those.
The positive aspect of the most recent statistics is that, for many of our benefits, the redetermination rate here in Scotland is much lower than that of the United Kingdom.
I accept that the agency might be taking slightly longer to process applications at the moment, but it is really important that we get the right decision the first time round in as many cases as possible. I will ensure that Jeremy Balfour receives a full update from the cabinet secretary on the actions that we are taking.