House of Commons committee to examine Scottish welfare policy

The UK Parliament’s Scottish affairs select committee has issued a call for evidence regarding its inquiry into welfare policy in Scotland.

The inquiry will examine the effect of welfare policies on the lives of claimants and poverty and inequality levels more broadly north of the border.

It will:

  • assess the effectiveness of Scottish Choices which provide a unique degree of flexibility for those on Universal Credit in Scotland
  • explore the consequences of Universal Credit policies specific to Scotland, including; inaccessibility in rural areas, and the issue of debt spiralling for those taking advanced payments
  • understand how effective cooperation has been between the UK and Scottish Governments on the devolution of new welfare powers to Scotland
  • evaluate the likely long-term impacts of coronavirus on the devolution of welfare.

Welfare claimants in Scotland currently receive £19.5 billion in welfare payments, which have undergone cuts and a series of reforms in recent years. These reforms include Universal Credit and the transfer of control over parts of the welfare system from Westminster to Holyrood.

Demands on the welfare system have been exacerbated this year by the coronavirus pandemic. Since the start of the crisis, the number of people claiming Universal Credit in Scotland has almost doubled, increasing from 264,177 in March to 473,973 in August. Meanwhile, the pandemic has delayed the rollout of the Scottish Government’s replacement for Personal Independence Payments and the introduction of Child Disability Payment following a transfer of powers to Holyrood.

The committee calls for evidence to be submitted on the following issues: 

  • What impact has UK welfare reform had on poverty & inequality in Scotland?
  • How well is Universal Credit working in Scotland? Are there issues with Universal Credit that are specific to Scotland compared to the rest of the UK?
  • What has been the effect of the introduction of full Universal Credit services in Scotland for claimants who previously received legacy benefits?
  • Do people in Scotland benefit from the flexibility of having Universal Credit paid at a different frequency or to their landlord directly via the Scottish Choices system?
  • How effective has cooperation been between the UK & Scottish Governments on the devolution of new welfare powers to Scotland?
  • Why have there been delays in the administration of benefits, which has been devolved to Scotland via the Scotland Act of 2016? What have been the impacts of delays in the devolution of benefits administration?
  • What changes might be necessary to help manage the transfer of claimants and data from the Department for Work & Pensions to Social Security Scotland?
  • What impact could diverging welfare policies in Scotland and the rest on the UK have on welfare claimants in Scotland?
  • What are the likely long-term impacts of coronavirus on the devolution of welfare?

The deadline for evidence to be submitted is by December 2.

Tags: welfare

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