The SNP Government has begun a consultation on the future of social security in Scotland.
The 13 week consultation starts today and last until Friday, 28 October. It will focus on the policy, delivery and cross cutting issues that will inform the first Scottish social security Bill. The SNP Government is fully committed to ensuring that anyone can take part and during the consultation period, it will take forward a series of information events while supporting organisations will do the same. A support pack can be used to facilitate discussions on the benefits being devolved to Scotland, as well as how they are delivered.
Regulations were laid at Westminster last month to begin the process of transferring power, from the UK to the Scottish Parliament to legislate in relation to devolved benefits. Once fully devolved, these will account for around £2.7 billion, or 15% of the total Scottish benefit bill. The remainder of benefit spending in Scotland will remain under UK Government control.
Social Security Secretary Angela Constance MSP met staff and service users to hear their own experiences and what they want to see from a Scottish social security system and said:
“We are keen to introduce these powers as quickly as possible to improve people’s lives and the launch of this consultation is an important step in this process.
“We have already committed to a number of measures that will benefit people in Scotland, including increasing Carer’s Allowance to the level of Jobseeker’s Allowance and replacing the Sure Start Maternity Grant with an expanded Maternity and Early Years Allowance (now called the Best Start Grant). However, we want to gather views from as many people as possible from across Scotland about their own experience of benefits, and how they think the system could be improved in the future.
“While the Scotland Act does not go as far as we would wish in devolving powers, leaving 85% of benefit spending in the hands of the UK Government, we will always use all of the powers available to us in the best interests of Scotland.”
Kenneth Gibson Added:
“The SNP Government has already committed to bringing forward Scotland’s first social security bill within a year. Evidence gathered during this consultation process will inform the development and drafting of the Bill.
“We want to build a fairer social security system that treats people with dignity and respect.” Benefits being transferred to Scotland are:
Ill health and disability benefits, including Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payments, Attendance Allowance, Severe Disablement Allowance and Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
Sure Start Maternity Grants
Cold Weather Payments and Winter Fuel Payments
Discretionary Housing Payments
Some powers in relation to Universal Credit
Benefits to remain reserved to the UK Government are:
Universal Credit (which replaces Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Related Employment Support Allowance, Working Tax Credits, Child Tax Credits and Housing Benefit)
State Pension and Pension Credit
Contributory Employment Support Allowance
Maternity and Paternity Pay
Should you seek further information on the consultation please contact: SocialSecurityConsultation@gov.scot or telephone on 0131 244 7763 or write to: Social Security Consultation, 5th Floor, 5 Atlantic Quay, 150 Broomielaw, Glasgow, G2 8LU