Scots are being asked to help shape the country’s first ever £2.7billion social security system.
As part of the devolution of major new tax and spend powers to Holyrood, the Scottish Government will soon take control of some benefits, as well as have the power to introduce new payments.
Once fully devolved, the Scottish welfare system will account for around £2.7billion of welfare spending.
Under the Scotland Act, the Scottish Government will take control of a range of welfare payments, including winter fuel, disability and discretionary housing payments.
Social Security Secretary Angela Constance announced yesterday that her administration would be seeking the views of members of the public as to how this money should be spent.
Speaking at the Macmillan Hub at the Pearce Institute in Govan, she said: “We are already working to use these powers as quickly as possible to improve people’s lives in Scotland, and the launch of this consultation is an important step in this process.
“We have already committed to a number of measures that will benefit people in Scotland, including increasing Carer’s Allowance to the level of Jobseeker’s Allowance, and replacing the Sure Start Maternity Grant with an expanded Maternity and Early Years Allowance – now called the Best Start Grant.
“However, we want to gather views from as many people as possible from across Scotland about their own experience of benefits, and how they think the system could be improved in the future.
“While the Scotland Act does not go as far as we would wish in devolving powers – leaving 85% of benefit spending in the hands of the UK Government – we will always use all of the powers available to us in the best interests of Scotland.”
The process of transferring power, for the Scottish Parliament to make legislation in relation to a limited number of benefits, including disability and carers payments, passed an important milestone this month when regulations were laid at Westminster to begin the transfer.
Macmillan’s senior partnerships manager Trisha Hatt added: “Being diagnosed with cancer brings financial problems for 80% of Scots. Too many tell us that navigating the benefits system is extremely difficult.
“This is why we have set up benefits advice services across Scotland and why we’re grateful the Scottish Government has funded our benefits advice services in the five cancer centres.”