Labour slams SNP for not using the powers transferred from Westminster
Labour has launched a scathing attack on the SNP government for its “disastrous failure” to use the social security powers devolved from Westminster five years ago. The party said the SNP had “broken its promise” to the people of Scotland by not delivering the benefits it had pledged.
The Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018, which was passed on April 25, 2018, created a new system for benefits transferred from the UK Government. A total of 13 Scottish Government benefits are now being delivered through Social Security Scotland, seven of which are only available in Scotland.
However, Labour said a number of powers have gone unused, with responsibility still lying with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) at Westminster, including responsibility for Carers’ Allowance until 2025. The party also said that the IT system for devolved benefits had led to a £39 million overspend.
Labour MSP Paul O’Kane said the Scottish Government had “bungled the delivery” of the new benefits. He said: “The SNP has broken its promise to Scotland with its disastrous failure to use our social security powers. They have let down the most vulnerable people in our society who need support the most.”
SNP defends its record on social security and blames UK Government for delays
The SNP government has defended its record on social security and blamed the UK Government for the delays in transferring some of the benefits. The government said it had delivered seven new benefits, including the Scottish Child Payment, which is expected to lift 30,000 children out of poverty.
The government also said it had increased Carer’s Allowance Supplement by 13% and introduced the Best Start Grant and the Best Start Foods, which provide financial support to low-income families with young children. The government claimed it had spent over £600 million on social security in 2022-23, reaching over 800,000 people.
Social Security Secretary Shona Robison said the SNP government was “building a social security system based on dignity, fairness and respect”. She said: “We are delivering a range of benefits that are making a real difference to people’s lives, especially during these challenging times. We are also working hard to take on the remaining devolved benefits as quickly and safely as possible, despite the disruption caused by the pandemic and the lack of cooperation from the UK Government.”
Experts call for more collaboration and innovation in social security
Experts have called for more collaboration and innovation in social security, as the fifth anniversary of the devolution law approaches. They said the Scottish Government and the UK Government should work together to ensure a smooth transition of the benefits and avoid duplication and confusion for the claimants.
They also said the Scottish Government should use its powers to design and deliver more tailored and responsive benefits that meet the needs and aspirations of the people of Scotland. They said the government should involve the stakeholders and the public in the co-production and evaluation of the benefits.
Dr Mark Simpson, a senior lecturer in social policy at Queen’s University Belfast, said the devolution of social security was a “historic opportunity” for Scotland to create a more progressive and inclusive system. He said: “The Scottish Government has made some positive steps in delivering some of the devolved benefits, but there is still a lot of work to be done. The government should use its powers to innovate and experiment with new forms of social security that can address the challenges of poverty, inequality, and social exclusion in Scotland.”