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Social security in Scotland scrutinised

11 December 2020

The Scottish Affairs Committee will hear from social security experts about the problems that people in Scotland face as they encounter the benefits system in an evidence session on 16 December.

Purpose of the session

Panellists are expected to be quizzed on trends and drivers of poverty in Scotland, the effectiveness of major welfare policies and the impact of coronavirus pandemic on the system.

The session is the first of the Committee’s Welfare Policy in Scotland Inquiry which is examining the performance of the welfare system in Scotland in effectively delivering help for those who need it.


Earlier this month, the Committee launched a survey to get the views of people in Scotland who are on benefits or who have tried to apply.

Paper copies of the survey are also available and can be requested by emailing the Committee at or by pone on 0207 219 7387.

Coronavirus and transfer of powers

Covid-19 has driven a surge in benefits claimants, with more than 474,000 in Scotland now on Universal Credit alone. That number could rise as the economic damage from the pandemic is fully revealed.

Meanwhile a major transfer of policy-making powers in welfare from Whitehall to the Scottish Government is currently underway. The latest tranche of powers now due to be handed over in summer 2021.

The combination of increased demand on the system at a time when new systems are coming online could have implications for the way Scottish and UK welfare policies interact and for people in Scotland in need of help.


Wednesday 16 December

At 2pm

  • Professor Grainne McKeever, Professor of Law and Social Justice, University of Ulster & Co-Director of the Ulster University Law Clinic
  • Professor Paul Spicker, Emeritus Professor, Robert Gordon University
  • Professor John McKendrick, Professor of Social Justice, Glasgow Caledonian University & Co-Director of the Scottish Poverty

At 3pm

  • Neil Cowan, Senior Policy and Parliamentary Officer, The Poverty Alliance
  • Chris Birt, Director for Scotland, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  • David Eiser, Knowledge Exchange Fellow

Further information