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Information relating to Social Security Scotland benefit payments: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

FOI Reference: FOI/202300372953
Date received: 24 August 2023
Date responded: 20 September 2023


In a previous FOI response (ref 202300363385) Social Security Scotland stated:

“We hold reports which are generated by the Department for Work and Pensions who process payments on our behalf. Social Security Scotland receive reports of payments which have been flagged as late and the number of days delayed”

Based on this response, I am asking for the following information:

A copy of the information contained within the latest report Social Security Scotland received from the Department of Work and Pensions that highlighted the number of payments ‘flagged as late’ and the number of the days.

(If possible, and only possible, please also provide the two previous reports that came before the latest as well, in other words the last three reports in total sent by the DWP).

Response to your request

You will find the reports attached to this email.

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information in the report because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. their name, bank account and National Insurance number. We consider that disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018.

This exemption is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

An exemption under section 30(c) of FOISA (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs) applies to a small amount of the information requested. We have concluded that disclosing this information would substantially prejudice the Government’s ability to effectively pay those in receipt of benefits. This is because to reveal the account number from which benefit payments are made would make a government bank account vulnerable to attack, the consequence of which would be fraud. This would have a substantial impact on our clients for whom payments are processed through this account.

This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government. However, there is a greater public interest in ensuring:

  • the confidentiality of Government bank accounts processing large volumes of payments to clients;
  • that the Scottish Government is able to pay benefits effectively; and
  • that our clients receive funds as planned without disruption.

Within the reports ‘’Original EMS Payment Due Date’’ is the date payment was planned to be credited to the client account and ‘Payment Credit/encashment date’ is the date the client account was credited.

Each payment can include multiple components and the line item in the body of the report is at component level, there can be more line items in the body of the report than the total volume at the top of the report as a result.

To help you understand the information within the reports, we have summarised:

22/08/2023 –

1 payment credited 15 days after planned date (including weekends).

3 payments credited 3 days after planned date

1 payment credited 1 day after planned date

23/08/2023 –

9 payments credited 1 day after planned date.

24/08/2023 –

4 payments credited 5 days after planned date (including weekends).

Social Security Scotland actively monitors the progress of all payments made. Exceptions do occur and manual intervention is required to correct exceptions and this will normally lead to the credit occurring after the initially expected date.

It may be helpful for context to know that during the period of these reports, we made 54,194 payments.

About FOI

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