UK and Scottish Government Ministers met today to consider welfare-related aspects of the Smith Commission report in what is a first step towards the transfer of responsibilities.
The meeting, which was co-chaired by David Mundell MP and Alex Neil MSP, considered both policy and operational practice around how support will be delivered to help people back in to work and the administration of benefits.
Speaking after the meeting, David Mundell MP, Alex Neil MSP, Mark Harper MP, Priti Patel MP and John Swinney MSP issued the following joint statement:
We had a very useful meeting to establish the steps that we need to take to facilitate a smooth transition of powers. It is important for those who benefit from the support that is available that the transfer of responsibilities is as seamless as possible.
Joint Ministerial Working Group on Welfare
The Joint Ministerial Working Group is established to provide a forum for discussion and decision-making to ensure the implementation of welfare-related aspects of the Smith Commission Report. The purpose and terms of reference for the group will be reviewed after the next UK Government election.
David Mundell MP, Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Scotland (Co-chair)
Priti Patel MP, Exchequer Secretary to HM Treasury
Lord Freud MP, Minister for Welfare Reform
Alex Neil MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners’ Rights (Co-chair)
John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and the Economy
Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills & Training.
Membership may vary, according to agenda items for each meeting.
Terms of Reference
- To promote the exchange of information required for the transfer of powers between relevant Government Departments
- To ensure a smooth transition of the new responsibilities to the Scottish Government and that they are delivered in a way that is coherent from the perspective of those who seek to benefit from them
- To discuss policy and operational practice in areas where responsibility is due to transfer, all in the context of respecting the principle of “no pre-emptive action.”
- To work cooperatively to deliver the transfer of powers in relation to the spirit of the Smith agreement and to ensure that the emerging Bill is fit for purpose
- To allow for open discussions that seek to provide a resolution of contentious and challenging issues
As far as possible discussions should be open, transparent and accessible with the aim of keeping stakeholders fully informed of progress (recognising the confidentiality of some aspects of the negotiations).
Work schedule – priority areas until pre-election period for UK Government elections
Consider respective policy directions and operational implications for disability related benefits
Universal Credit (UC) flexibilities
Exchange and access to information and resources
The Scottish Government and Scotland Office will jointly co-ordinate the Secretariat, with the location of the meetings alternating between London and Edinburgh, where this is feasible.