photo credit: PhylB via photopin cc

The Scottish Government is seeking further clarification to speed up the pace of welfare devolution to Scotland, it has been announced today.

Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil is calling for further progress reports on scrapping the hated ‘bedroom tax’, the introduction of Personal Independence Payments (PIP) for disabled Scots and the highly controversial Work Programme, which forces unemployed people to work unpaid in exchange for benefit payments.

The Joint Ministerial Working Group on Welfare will be meeting to discuss the implementation of welfare aspects related to the Smith Commission, following the Scottish independence referendum.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Mr Neil will meet with UK Government Ministers on Wednesday.

Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil said:

“This forum has been agreed to get the transfer of welfare powers right and ensure UK legislation is clear, fit for purpose and reflects the spirit and intention of the Smith Agreement. Above all, it must give us the tools to help people on benefits.

“I want to abolish the ‘bedroom tax’ as soon as possible. Reflecting significant concerns across Scotland, I also believe that the roll out of new Personal Independence Payments should be stopped and we should consider options for the future of disability benefits in Scotland, as they will be devolved in the near future.

“More generally, the UK Government should not take decisions on areas identified for further devolution without the Scottish Government’s agreement.

“I want to use the administrative flexibilities offered around Universal Credit to do things differently, more quickly and on Scotland’s own terms.

“In consultation with our partners, I want to consider paying housing costs direct to landlords and changing how frequently benefits are paid.

“I also expect to receive further clarity on the timescales for devolution of employment services, in particular the Work Programme.

“Through the Ministerial Group, we will work constructively with the UK Government to transfer these powers to Scotland smoothly.

“The UK Government must give us the clarity we need in all of these areas, before the pre-election period, to get the best deal for the people of Scotland.”

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