Delay to benefits powers handover as DWP retain control of disability payments
PLANS to transfer control of some types of benefits to the Scottish Government will be delayed for another three years, it has emerged.
The BBC reported that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will retain control over benefits that were supposed to handed to Social Security Scotland until 2026.
Disability living allowance, attendance allowance, severe disablement allowance and payments for industrial injuries have all been delayed – with the UK’s DWP Secretary warning there must be “no further” blocks to the agreed timetable.
The benefits were supposed to be transferred to the Scottish Government’s control in 2020, under the terms of the 2016 Scotland Act, but this was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
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The BBC reports that Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride wrote to his Scottish counterpart Shona Robison: “Any changes to this plan, including unexpected delays or the introduction of additional requirements or benefits into the timetable would create significant delivery risks.”
The broadcaster also said that the governments had agreed to extend the DWP’s control over personal independence payment and carers allowance in Scotland until March 2025, with the department also offering to make winter fuel payments for 2023-2024.
Social Security Scotland is responsible for doling out the Scottish child payment and other Scotland-only benefits. It is also took over some UK benefits such as best start grants and funeral payments.
The agency is in the process of taking over disability payments and plans to replace some – such as the delayed attendance allowance – with Scottish versions.
Opposition MSPs have criticised the Scottish Government’s pace of creating a new welfare system north of the Border.
Conservative MSP Miles Briggs said: "It is concerning that we are yet again seeing DWP and UK ministers having to provide contingencies and extensions to agency agreements to help support the ongoing delivery of welfare payments in Scotland.
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"Promises made by SNP ministers around the establishment capabilities of Social Security Scotland have come and gone."
Labour’s Pam Duncan-Glancy added: “The relationship between Scotland's two governments has descended into chaos once again, leaving the SNP's promise to deliver a fairer, functioning Scottish social security system in tatters.
"Every day that this programme is delayed is another day that disabled people and carers are left at the mercy of a Tory-run DWP.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said there would be an update on the delays in parliament on Tuesday.
They told the BBC: “This is and has always been a joint programme of delivery between both governments.
"The Scottish Government has worked with the UK Government to ensure that plans for the transfer of benefits were deliverable both for the UK Government and the Scottish Government.
"Both governments needed to pause some work to respond to the pandemic, so the original programme of work needed to be replanned.
"Despite the pandemic, we are now delivering 12 Scottish Government social security benefits to one million people, seven of which are entirely new forms of financial support which are only available only in Scotland including the Scottish Child Payment.”