How Scotland implements the UK Welfare Reform Act is back under the spotlight today as the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee has asked for comments on the general principles of the Scottish Government’s Welfare Reform (Further Provision) (Scotland) Bill.
In December 2011, the Scottish Parliament voted to take responsibility for welfare matters over which it has power, rather than agreeing for these to be passed by the Westminster Parliament.
The Welfare Reform (Further Provision) (Scotland) Bill proposes that the Scottish Government be given powers to introduce regulations under the UK Welfare Reform Act and amend other Scottish legislation that relates to it.
Committee Convener Michael McMahon MSP said: “The aim of this legislation is to ensure Scotland can put in place all the necessary arrangements well before the deadline for the introduction of the new welfare system on 1 April 2013.
"This is the date on which the current benefits system begins to end. New arrangements must be in place for benefits such as for housing and also for ‘passported’ benefits such as disabled parking badges and concessionary travel.
“We are asking people to let us know what they think about how the Scottish Government is planning to bring about the changes required.
"Our Committee is keen to make sure that this Bill receives proper scrutiny, despite its rapid timetable.
"We only have a few weeks to gather evidence. I would encourage all those involved in representing those receiving welfare and people affected by the proposed changes to let us know what they think as soon as possible.”
The Committee is seeking views on the general principles of the bill and specifically on the universal credit and personal independence payments.
The Committee also wants to hear comments on the subordinate legislation proposed, the financial memorandum and the effect on equal opportunities, human rights, island communities and sustainable development.
Deputy Convener Jamie Hepburn MSP added: “We want to work closely with the Scottish Government to ensure all possible steps are being taken to mitigate the impact of change, including where UK reforms have a disproportionate impact north of the border.
"Evidence provided to us will help us do this as we examine the Bill.”
Submissions should be received by 11 April if you wish to be considered to appear before the Committee to share your views, or by 23 April if you want the issues you raise to be put to the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Cities Strategy, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, when she appears before the Committee to promote the Bill.
Responses should be sent, where possible, electronically in MS Word format and, if possible, in no more than four sides of A4 in length by email to: [email protected]
You may also make hard-copy written submissions to the following address:
The Welfare Reform Committee
Should you wish to submit evidence in alternative formats then please get in touch through the following ways:
Textphone: 0800 092 7100
SMS: 07786 209 888
Listen to a short Q&A session about the Scottish Welfare Reform Bill
The Welfare Reform Committee was established on 25 January 2012. The Committee's role is monitor the UK Welfare Reform Act’s implementation as it affects welfare provision in Scotland and to consider relevant Scottish legislation and other consequential arrangements.
The Committee is beginning its Stage 1 consideration of the Bill introduced by the Scottish Government on elements of Welfare Reform stemming from the UK Welfare Reform Act. The purpose of Stage 1 scrutiny is to decide whether or not the Parliament endorses the policy proposals put forward in a Bill.
If the Parliament does agree the Bill can proceed there are then amending stages in committee (Stage 2) and in the full Chamber (Stage 3) to seek to improve the Bill’s provisions.