Exploring five ingredients for an award-winning benefits system

The Scottish Government’s social security program has won multiple awards for its benefits system, which is powered by Cúram technology and services. In this post, we’ll take a look at five of the ways that the organization successfully reinvented legacy benefits systems and delivered a new approach.

This year, Social Security Scotland won yet another award for its delivery of services to support some of the most vulnerable people across the country. By building a system powered by technology that treats all benefits applicants and claimants with dignity, fairness, and respect, the Scottish Government is reducing stigma and anxiety — helping to create a fairer Scotland.

The latest of many awards

The recent recognition from the 2024 Government Project Delivery Awards was for the work supporting the expansion of the Scottish Child Payment benefit and introducing automation for Best Start Grant payments.1 This vital support will help lift 50,000 children out of poverty this year alone.1

The recognition follows a string of awards for its services to support some of the most disadvantaged people in Scotland. Last year Social Security Scotland won ‘Project Team of the Year’ at the UK IT Industry Awards 20232 for innovation and real-world achievements on the launch of its Adult Disability Payment benefits. The technologies it implemented meant that application processing time has been reduced by 7 days,3 and also allowed for increased scale, with almost half of payments going to new applicants.3 This means more people are getting the help they need sooner.

The Scottish Government also earned recognition at the start of its journey in delivering Low Income and Disability Benefits by winning the 2020 Management Consultancy Awards for “Change and Transformation in the Public Sector”.4 Launching the new benefits on a secure, scalable platform allowed payments of over £190 million to be delivered to nearly 100,000 households,4 making a material difference to the lives of many.

Cúram is proud of the work it has done in collaboration with IBM consulting as part of the Scottish Government’s ambitious and award-winning Social Security program. Let’s take a look at some of the key factors behind the organization’s success.

1. Deploying a single case management platform

The Scottish Government aimed to create a single case management platform for all social security benefits, delivering a common user experience for the agency, reducing siloes, and eliminating the needs for staff training.

To help accomplish this vision, the Scottish Government developed a cloud-first approach and built an open, flexible health and human services platform designed to accommodate several technologies. By building the solution in a hybrid cloud environment, the organization enables growth and has the flexibility to replace starter platforms with more strategic solutions over time.

The Scottish Government’s innovation was to take a commercial off-the-shelf solution from Cúram and apply an Agile development approach, encompassing user research and dev ops delivery, to establish the fastest possible route to bring new capability to live use.

Combining the configurable Cúram solution, which was modelled around family structures and social welfare management, with best practice dev ops allowed the team to deploy quickly, and iterate to enhance value.

2. Listening to the needs and experiences of citizens

The rollout of the benefits services to citizens across Scotland is a great example of user-centred design. The team embodied the principles of keeping both the caseworkers and citizens of Scotland continuously at the heart of the project, through codesigning and iterative feedback.

During the rollout of the Adult Disability Payments benefit, every member of the team spent time shadowing Social Security Scotland caseworkers as they assessed claimants and administered the legacy DWP benefits. The teams also spoke directly with many people who rely on disability benefits. In total, 1,500 service users, all with a range of personal circumstances and experiences, were consulted during the design process.

These consultations gave claimants an opportunity to provide feedback on how services could be improved. Most of all, the team aimed to automate as much of the administrative work as possible, enabling caseworkers to devote more time to meetings with service users.

3. Selecting software built for social programs

The benefit of the Cúram platform is that it is built specifically to deliver social programs and manage successful outcomes for citizens. The solution is also configurable and adaptable to meet the specific needs of individual organizations, or benefits legislation.

Gathering first-hand knowledge of the challenges faced by service users gave the design team the unique insight they needed to tailor Cúram to meet the needs of the Scottish population and specific benefits legislation of the Scottish Government.

“Cúram provides the only case management platform that includes end-to-end business processes specific to government requirements — from initial benefits assessment right through to processing payments. This was a huge plus for Social Security Scotland as it minimized the amount of time taken to set up a new agency and deliver its first benefit. The organization is now delivering 11 benefits, with more to come.”

– Nick Raponi, Vice President of Implementations, at Cúram

4. Driving tech-enabled process efficiencies

The rich workflow functionality within the Cúram solution supports extensive automation and enables benefits claims to be processed and passed straight into payment without human intervention. In more complex cases that require human support, automated alerts sent to the appropriate users warn them to take action within defined timescales. This improves process efficiency, releasing caseworkers to spend more time with the individuals who require it most while reducing the overall cost of delivering benefits.

Cúram also helps different businesses within the social welfare sector to communicate directly in the interests of citizens. The social care agency can receive information direct from physicians and healthcare professionals without requiring citizen involvement — saving time, avoiding miscommunication, and streamlining the process to improve outcomes for individuals. Moreover, the Cúram solution integrates directly with several online portals allowing citizens to request benefits and pass information directly to the case workers themselves.

5. Ensuring continuous improvement

The goal for the team as they built the benefits model was to establish an industry leading Agile delivery cycle based on continuous improvement. Regular feedback through an effective Agile methodology supports rapid delivery and seamless modifications as solutions evolve. This way of working helped to identify opportunities to streamline workflows with automation data driven improvements and document reading intelligence.

Improvements and further enhancement to the existing benefits are continually underway to ensure these essential services are delivered as efficiently as possible to the people that need them the most. In future years, the established delivery model will continue to innovate and improve, informed by its feedback cycles, and will introduce new support focused on the goals of the Scottish Government in transforming the lives of its most vulnerable citizens.

“Colleagues across the government were extremely complimentary about our work in this space. They recognized the clear impact it has on hundreds of thousands of clients.”1

– Aaron Smith, Head of Business Change Management, Social Security Scotland



  1. The Scottish Government. "Award win for our Scottish Child Payment project." Social Security Scotland Latest News, February 19, 2024.
  2. UK IT Industry Awards. "2023 Winners." UK IT Industry Awards, November 8th, 2023.
  3. The Scottish Government. "Adult Disability Payment: High level statistics to 31 October 2023." Social Security Scotland, December 19, 2023.
  4. MCA. "IBM Services with the Scottish Government." MCA, January 20, 2020.