The meeting was chaired by Scottish Secretary David Mundell. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Stephen Crabb also attended for the UK Government.
In their first meeting since being appointed as the new ministerial team responsible for leading on the transfer of welfare and employment powers the group’s co-chair Angela Constance, Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities and Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, represented the Scottish Government.
The group discussed the ongoing terms of reference for the group, with a focus on building a constructive future dialogue on the implementation of the welfare and employment powers in the Scotland Act 2016. On the transfer of welfare powers, Ministers agreed to work closely together to ensure a smooth transition to new arrangements.
Speaking after the meeting, David Mundell, Stephen Crabb, Angela Constance and Keith Brown said:
We had a very productive meeting which focussed on the importance of working together to ensure the safe transfer of these important powers, with those who stand to benefit at the forefront of discussions. We are pleased to be able to agree that work can progress to quickly commence a number of powers in the Scotland Act and to continue discussing the commencement of the remaining welfare sections in the Act.
Joint Ministerial Working Group – Terms of Reference
The Joint Ministerial Working Group is established to provide a forum for discussion and decision-making to ensure the implementation of welfare and employment-related aspects of the Scotland Act 2016. It met first in February 2015.
- Secretary of State for Scotland (Co-chair)
- Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
- Minister for Employment
- Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities (Co Chair)
- Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work
- Minister for Social Security
- Minister for Employment and Skills
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
- 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 through joint communiques following each meeting (recognising the confidentiality of some aspects of the negotiations). Where an issue needs to be decided upon outside of the schedule of meetings, this may be agreed by correspondence.
Work schedule – priority areas for next 12 months
- Draft secondary legislation, regulations or agency agreements.
- Scotland Act 2016 commencement and implementation.
- Joint transition to devolved and reserved employment programmes.
- Consider respective policy directions and operational implications for disability related benefits.
- Universal Credit (UC) flexibilities.
- Exchange and access to information and resources.
- Stakeholder engagement.