Most jobs at Dundee’s social security headquarters will be new, says minister

© DC Thomson
The new Scottish welfare system will bring 750 jobs to Dundee by 2021.

Most of the jobs at Dundee’s new welfare headquarters will be new, an SNP minister has insisted.

About 750 jobs will be created at the central office of the social security agency over the next four years, as revealed this week by the First Minister.

Social security minister Jeanne Freeman said the vast majority of those will be new, but a “small number” are expected to replace existing posts at the Department for Work and Pensions.

She also gave a clear indication the Dundee HQ will be in a prime central location by insisting the offices “will not be hidden away in an industrial estate or business park”.

The Dundee base will be in charge of delivering nearly £3bn worth of payments as Holyrood assumes control of 11 benefits from Westminster by 2021.

There will be a central workforce of 1,500 across the City of Discovery and a second site in Glasgow.

“We expect the social security agency to be employing around 250 staff by summer 2019 to deliver our first benefits – carer’s allowance supplement, our new best start grant and funeral expenses assistance,” Ms Freeman told MSPs.

“In addition to the central functions, we estimate that at least 400 jobs will be created for the locally-based agency presence.”

Ms Freeman was pressed by Tory MSP Adam Tomkins on whether the jobs will be new or replacements for those at DWP, which has offices in Dundee.

“I do not have an exact number but my expectation is that a small number may well be existing DWP jobs in Scotland administering or dealing with the benefit that we will be responsible for,” she said.

Ms Freeman was invited to provide assurances on the £190m figure for the IT system powering the new agency in the wake of past payments failures.

She said they arrived at that sum after detailed analysis, but added the figure “will be refined as we go through the IT build”.