Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) Between Scottish Ministers (SM) and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (SSWP) on joint working arrangements

Memorandum of Understanding between Scottish Ministers and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on social security and employment services in Scotland.

1. Introduction

1.1. The Smith Commission[1] recommended devolution of some social security and employment matters to the Scottish Parliament. The Scotland Act [2] 2016 received Royal Assent on 23 March 2016, giving the Scottish Parliament competence to legislate for matters relating to both social security and employment support services. The Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018, which received Royal Assent on 1 June 2018, was made exercising that competence.

1.2. This MoU is an agreement between SM and SSWP. It sets out a framework for co-operation between each government in respect of ensuring that the social security and the employment support provisions, associated powers and operations of the Scotland Act 2016 are considered and implemented effectively and with full regard to both Scottish and UK systems. It is also a basis on which to build enduring joint operational working and collaboration between both Governments.

1.3. Scottish Government (SG) and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are separate entities, accountable to the Scottish and the UK Parliaments respectively, albeit in accordance with one civil service code. However, both parties recognise the need for co-operation and intergovernmental workings on matters of joint interest, including both the reserved and devolved areas. The new devolution settlement enables SG and DWP to proactively work together and build on an already strong relationship to create a more productive, robust, transparent and visible relationship.

1.4. Within SG, social security and employability sit within separate Cabinet Secretary and Ministerial portfolios. In civil service terms, there are different accountable officers for the two areas – mirroring the Ministerial responsibilities – and, below those accountable officers, parallel programmes of work to manage the implementation and delivery of the social security and the employment support provisions of the Scotland Act 2016: the Social Security Programme and the Employment Services Programme. As such there is a need to differentiate aspects of this MoU to reflect differences in timeline, approach, scope, activities, governance and lines of accountability between the two programmes.

1.5. Where possible, a common approach is taken to sections that are applicable to both the Employability and Social Security programmes in SG. A number of areas, particularly in relation to information sharing, require to be treated distinctly because of the different lines of accountability within SG. Where this is necessary, a more detailed Annex to this MoU will be put in place which will be specific to one of the SG programmes.



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