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Inquiry into impact of welfare policy in Scotland launched

10 June 2019

The Scottish Affairs Committee has today launched an inquiry examining the impact of UK welfare policies in Scotland, such as Universal Credit and the two-child limit, and also the implications of major transfer of welfare powers to Scotland over the next few years.

Universal Credit, Benefit Cap and Two-Child Limit

Welfare claimants in Scotland receive £18.5 billion in welfare payments from the UK Government.  These payments have undergone a series of substantial reforms since 2010 including more recently the introduction of Universal Credit, the Benefit Cap and the Two Child Limit. The Scottish Affairs Committee's inquiry will examine how social inequality differs in Scotland when compared to the rest of the UK, the impact of UK welfare policies in Scotland and how they could be improved to better the lives of Scottish claimants.

Transfer of social security powers

The inquiry will also examine the transfer of social security powers from the UK to Scotland. Government. The 2016 Scotland Act devolved significant new welfare powers to the Scottish Parliament, including disability and carers benefits. It is the biggest transfer of powers to Scotland since the creation of devolution in 1999. The Committee will examine the process of transferring these powers safely and securely and the implications the switch in responsibility might have for claimants.

Chair's comments

Commenting on the launch of the inquiry, Committee Chair Pete Wishart MP said:

“Universal Credit is designed to make claiming benefits simpler and more beneficial, but most of us are aware that the policy has been fraught with issues from the start. Scotland was one of first places UC was trialled and my Committee wants to find out what impact it's had on the everyday lives of Scottish people, and what the UK Government can do to make it better.

We're also going through the biggest transition of powers since devolution in 1999 and it's vital that welfare responsibilities are transferred smoothly to ensure continuity of payments for benefits claimants.”

Inquiry launch 

The Committee is launching the inquiry today at Citizens Advice Scotland in Glasgow, where members will meet front-line staff who support welfare claimants in Scotland on a range of issues including welfare claims, housing & money. 

Terms of reference

The Committee is inviting written evidence on the following questions:

  • What are the unique drivers of inequality in Scotland? Does Scotland have different welfare needs from the rest of the UK?
  • 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 impact has the Benefit Cap had in Scotland? Have certain communities been more disproportionally affected than others?
  • What is the impact of the Two-Child Limit on families in Scotland?
  • How effective has cooperation been between the UK and Scottish Governments on the devolution of new welfare powers to Scotland?
  • What challenges are posed by the DWP administrating benefits on behalf of the Scottish Government? How can these challenges best be managed?
  • What changes might be necessary to help manage the transfer of claimants and data from the Department of Work & Pensions to Social Security Scotland?
  • What impact could diverging welfare policies in Scotland and the rest of the UK have on welfare claimants in Scotland?

Submit written evidence

Contribute views and ideas to the inquiry by submitting written evidence here by 5pm on Friday 30th August 2019.

Further information

Image: Ross Sneddon on Unsplash