News story

New Welfare Powers Transferred to the Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Parliament today takes on new powers which will allow it to adapt the existing UK welfare system more closely to Scotland’s needs.

Among Holyrood’s new powers, the parliament will be able to create new benefits in devolved areas and top-up UK-wide benefits including Universal Credit, Tax Credits and Child Benefit.

The move marks a significant milestone in the devolution of powers under the Scotland Act 2016, and comes as the Scottish Government prepares to unveil its Programme for Government for the new parliamentary session.

Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell said:

For the first time, from today, the Scottish Parliament will be able to legislate to create entirely new benefits and also to make significant changes to UK benefits that people already receive. These are important new powers that will sit side-by-side with Holyrood’s new tax-raising powers.

The new balance of responsibilities between the Scottish and the UK governments shows the benefits of stronger devolution for the people of Scotland. It means we are all able to rely on a secure UK-wide benefits system when we need it. But now ministers in Edinburgh are able to augment or adapt the system to meet local needs.

Coming as the Scottish Government prepares to unveil its legislative programme, it is a clear reminder that under the Scotland Act 2016 Holyrood is becoming one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world.

The UK Government is working with the Scottish Government on technical aspects of the new welfare powers. I look forward to seeing how Holyrood ministers plan to use them - as well as the parliament’s wide-ranging new tax powers - in the future.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Damian Green said:

This significant milestone is the culmination of the close co-operation, hard work and commitment between the UK Government and the Scottish Government to deliver on our promises.

The Scottish Government now has significant new welfare powers, and we will continue to work together to ensure that devolution works for the people of Scotland and the UK.

From today, the Scottish Parliament assumes powers to:

  • Create new benefits in devolved areas.
  • Top up reserved benefits (such Universal Credit, Tax Credits and Child Benefit).
  • Make discretionary payments and assistance.
  • Change employment support.
  • Make changes to Universal Credit for the costs of rented accommodation.
  • Make changes to Universal Credit on the timing of payments and recipients.

In addition, from 1 April next year, the Scottish Parliament will take on the power to make discretionary housing payments. Other welfare powers (including responsibility for carers and disability benefits, maternity payments and funeral payments) will transfer at a later date.

The UK and Scottish governments have worked together closely to ensure a safe and secure transfer of responsibilities. This work has been guided by the Joint Ministerial Working Group on Welfare.

The package of welfare powers complements Holyrood’s wide-ranging new tax powers, including the responsibility for setting income tax rates and thresholds, which will come into force in April next year. Other tax powers include control of Air Passenger Duty, coming into force in April 2018.