The Scottish Government published the report of the Expert Working Group on Welfare on 11 June, together with its response. The Group was asked to look at the costs and delivery of the welfare system at the point of independence and to take evidence on early priorities for policy change. Its report, together with work being undertaken by the Scottish Government, will inform the White Paper being published in Autumn 2013.
Scottish Ministers have accepted the Group’s recommendation that a transitional period of shared administration for delivery of benefit payments will be necessary. They believe, however, that this would only be in Scotland's interests if it allows the first Government of an independent Scotland to (i) introduce its priorities for change from Day One of independence and (ii) begin work towards creating a welfare system that better reflects Scotland's priorities and needs immediately following after a vote for independence in the Referendum. Additionally, Scottish Ministers have stated that such a transitional period should be as short as possible, ideally coming to an end in 2018.
The Expert Working Group on Welfare for an Independent Scotland will provide recommendations to Scottish Ministers in Spring 2014 on four areas:
The principles which could underpin a benefits system for people of working age in an independent Scotland.
In broad terms, set out the type of policy propositions for working age benefits which would align with these principles, and:
- how such policies would support people who can work, into sustained employment;
- how such policies would support people who can’t work participate in society as fully as possible.
The Group should, where it believes this would provide important context to its recommendations, provide views on other policy areas which the first Government of an independent Scotland may need to consider in order to achieve its policy outcomes for working-age benefits.
- The Expert Working Group on Welfare confirmed that the Scottish Government’s methodology to forecast the costs of benefits was reasonable. The Scottish Government will extend those forecasts so that they cover the early years of the first Parliament of an independent Scotland
- With that financial baseline in mind, and being mindful of the economic and fiscal circumstances, the Group will consider the broad costs and savings which might arise from its policy propositions on working-age benefits and, where relevant, views on how costs might be met and such savings invested.
- Options for delivery of benefit payments and the associated welfare services (which are currently reserved) in an independent Scotland.
- An indication of the opportunities for bringing devolved and reserved services together in an independent Scotland to create a more holistic system of welfare.
If you require information in relation to the work of this group then please contact the Welfare Reform in Scotland mailbox.