Transfer of new powers

Scottish Parliament to assume powers on social security and employability.

Regulations laid at Westminster tomorrow (14 July) will begin the transfer of powers to enable the Scottish Parliament to start legislating on social security and employability.

In time, these powers will improve the lives of people in Scotland, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Keith Brown pledged today.

The powers will include the ability to implement new arrangements to support people in receipt of benefits to be devolved, and the long term unemployed, including those with disabilities and health conditions.

The transfer gives the Scottish Government the power to start the process of implementing these changes over a number of years, including bringing forward the necessary legislation.

The timescale for implementation will start from 1 April 2017, when the first employment support schemes will start operating.

For social security, the regulations transfer the powers to create new benefits or top up existing ones. The transfer of powers over benefits currently being paid to people in Scotland will be at a later stage.

Once all of the powers are transferred the Scottish Government will have control of 15 per cent of current social security spend in Scotland, including the support given to disabled people and carers, and the ability to introduce new benefit payments.

Mr Brown said:

“The Scotland Act is the most substantial change to the powers of the Parliament since devolution and, while we are already working to use these powers as quickly as possible to improve people’s lives in Scotland, we are well aware of the scale of this task and our top priority is the safe and secure transfer of these powers to ensure anyone in receipt of benefits receives the right payment at the right time.

“We will work closely with Westminster ministers to ensure the transfer of these powers takes place as smoothly and as quickly as possible. This is the start of a process and these changes will be implemented on a phased basis over the coming years.

“New powers on employability are among the most exciting of the new areas to be devolved as it gives Scotland the chance to create services that help long term unemployed Scots find work and stay in work.

“We want to build a fairer social security system that supports the vulnerable in society and treats people with dignity and respect.

“Devolving powers over Discretionary Housing Payments will allow us to have full control over the funding allocation for Scotland, in addition to the funding we are already providing to mitigate fully the negative impact of the bedroom tax.

“We have already committed to extending winter fuel payments to families with severely disabled children and reform assessments for disability benefits.

“While the Scotland Act does not go as far as we would wish, we will always use all the powers available to us in the best interests of Scotland.”

Notes to editors

The following section of the Scotland Act 2016 will be commenced on 18 August 2016:

  • Section 65 - Office of Communications

The following sections of the Scotland Act 2016 will be commenced on 5 September 2016:

  • Section 22(1) and (3) - Disability, industrial injuries and carer’s benefits (please note this section is only being partially commenced and subsection (1) will only be in force as far as it relates to subsection (3)).
  • Section 23 (1) and (3) - Benefits for maternity, funeral and heating expenses (please note this section is only being partially commenced and subsection (1) will only be in force as far as it relates to subsection (3)).
  • Section 24 - Discretionary payments: top-up of reserved benefits
  • Section 26 - Discretionary payments and assistance
  • Section 28 - Power to create new benefits
  • Section 29 - Universal credit: costs of claimants who rent accommodation
  • Section 30 - Universal credit: persons to whom, and time when, paid
  • Section 31 - Employment support
  • Section 32 - Functions exercisable within devolved competence
  • Section 33 - Social Security Advisory Committee and Industrial Injuries Advisory Council
  • Section 34 - Information-sharing
  • Section 35 - Extension of unauthorised disclosure offence

The following section of the Scotland Act 2016 will be commenced on 1 April 2017:

  • Section 25 - Discretionary housing payments


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