SCOTLAND’S new £300m social security agency has a presence in just two of the country’s 32 councils as it goes live, it has emerged.

The SNP government signed a deal with the council group Cosla last December to co-locate face-to-face customer services for Social Security Scotland in council buildings.

In April, then social security minister Jeane Freeman added: “The new Social Security Scotland service will have a presence in every local authority area.”

However, despite the new agency due to deliver its first benefit this week, it has offices in just two councils - its HQ in Dundee and an administrative office in Glasgow.

The figures emerged in a parliamentary written answer from Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville.

She said: “Social Security Scotland have been meeting regularly with council representatives to identify suitable opportunities for co-location ahead of local delivery services becoming fully operational. To date, offices in two local authority areas have been acquired, these being the interim Headquarters for Social Security Scotland in Dundee and an interim administrative office in Glasgow.”

Ministers have not published a firm timetable for opening high street offices, but the phased roll-out of new devolved benefits means they will be vital by next summer.

However the Scottish Tories claimed the government was falling behind on a key pledge.  

Tory MSP Michelle Ballantyne said: “After years and years of complaining from the sidelines about welfare reform, the SNP is about to discover just how difficult it is to create a fair and affordable social security system.

“Earlier this year, it stated every local authority area would have a local presence when it comes to new social security powers. Yet just two of Scotland’s 32 councils have this.

“The SNP’s narrative on much-needed welfare reform may have served a certain political purpose for the nationalists. But now ministers have to get on with delivering these payments, and it appears it has got off to a poor start.”

Social Security Scotland is due to start its work delivering benefits today, with letters going out to around 75,000 telling them of a new automatic benefit worth £221.

The twice-yearly Carers’ Allowance Supplement, which is worth an extra £8.50 a week (13 per cent) on top of the UK maximum of £64.60, will be backdated to April.

The supplement, will be worth more than £30m a year to carers in receipt of DWP Carer’s Allowance on the qualifying date of April 16.

The vast majority of payments are due to be made this month, with the rest in October.

Ms Somerville, said: "From this week carers across Scotland start getting more money in their pockets as the first payments from Social Security Scotland – Carer’s Allowance Supplement - starts to be paid. 

 “Over the course of this month in excess of 75,000 carers will receive this first additional payment to Carers Allowance of £221 to be followed by another payment in December and every six months thereafter.

"This is an increase of 13% and an investment of over £30 million in our carers. We will start paying our second benefit – Best Start Grant – to low income families by Christmas.

“Making these payments represents a historic moment, launching a new public service that will deliver a social security system that treats people with dignity, fairness and respect.

“We have 100 new recruits in our Dundee headquarters working on the delivery of this benefit including taking calls on our freephone helpline for anyone who would like additional information or support.

“This new public service will deliver a further benefits once fully operational – providing vital support to people on low incomes, disabled people and continuing to provide this additional support for carers.”

David Wallace, Social Security Scotland Chief Executive said: "Social Security Scotland is responsible for making sure that these benefit payments – and the further benefits that we will eventually deliver – are managed correctly and fairly.

"We are working hard to make sure that everyone’s experience of this new public service is a positive one by putting dignity, fairness and respect at the heart of everything we do.”