Council Leaders at their meeting on 25 May 2012 endorsed the involvement by Scottish local authorities in pilot activity prior to the introduction of Universal Credit. COSLA, along with Scottish Government and the Improvement Service, has been engaging with the Department for Work and Pensions about the move to Universal Credit and the possible role of Scottish local authorities. The proposal for short term pilot activity led by local authorities arises out of these discussions.
The prospectus outlining the scope of pilots along with an Expression of Interest Pro Forma(to be returned by 15 June) and a Pilot Proposal Pro Forma (to be returned by 9 July 2012) are being published on our website today. It is intended that pilots would commence around September 2012. Pilots would run for timeframes to be determined but all 2013 focus pilot activity would finish by end of September 2013.
Pilots will be running before the introduction of Universal Credit and are not intended to test Universal Credit processing. However they are intended to demonstrate the capabilities of Scottish local authorities through existing activity which could enhance delivery.The pilots should show how councils could make improvements to one or more of five areas detailed in the prospectus.They should identify new ways of working together, better customer service, avoiding duplication and improving access.
Council Leaders, at their meeting, re-affirmed the priority attached to welfare reform and the action needed to mitigate the effects and risks associated with the introduction of Universal Credit. By showing the range of actions that councils can undertake, the pilots should help create the policy space and the case for such action into the future. The pilots should also help member authorities assess the changes they are making and refine what is effective. They can also demonstrate how measures to support delivery of benefits can link to broader changes they are seeking to make e.g.
Therefore, councils may wish to use the opportunity to undertake pilot activity to complement broader priorities. Please note that the request for expressions of interest does not commit your council to involvement in the pilots. This is simply required to enable COSLA, the Improvement Service and Scottish Government to provide further advice and support to councils who may be considering putting forward proposals. In addition, proposals can be accepted for consideration, while still subject to political approval by your council before they can go ahead.