Social security powers transfer needs 'clear plan' say committees

Written by Tom Freeman on 12 April 2017 in News

Political wrangling over the transfer of powers will not help claimants, warn committees in both Westminster and Holyrood

Scottish Parliament - Anita Gould

The transfers of welfare powers to the Scottish Parliament needs a clear plan, according to committees at both Holyrood and Westminster.

In a joint letter to UK and Scottish ministers, Holyrood’s Social Security Committee and Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee said  both governments need a clear plan for the transfer of powers.

They also suggested the procedures for addressing any dispute between the two governments should be strengthened.


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The letter to the UK Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Scotland's Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities follows the first joint meetings between committees of the two parliaments.

Pete Wishart MP, chair of Westminster's Scottish Affairs Committee said: “Our session with Damian Green and Angela Constance showed that, while new powers are being devolved to Holyrood, the success of this devolution of powers in Scotland will rely on a good working relationship between ministers and departments. 

"Where there are inevitable tensions over different approaches attached to the delivery of social security policy good working arrangements have developed amongst civil servants.

“It is clear that there have been sticking points, most notably the lack of communications over Jobcentre plus closures, housing benefit to 18-21 year olds and differences in opinion over the fundamental purpose of the benefits system. We have asked the ministers to be clearer about how they work together, in particular how they will solve further policy differences, and we look forward to their response.”

Sandra White, convener of the Social Security Committee said: “With an issue as important and complex as the transfer of social security powers, close working between the Scottish and UK Governments will be vital.

"There is clearly some great work taking place between officials and whilst there will always be political differences between the two governments, these cannot be at the expense of claimants."

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