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Holyrood calls for evidence on Welfare Reform Bill

23 March 2012

The Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee today opened a call for written views from all interested parties on the general principles of the Welfare Reform (Further Provision) (Scotland) Bill.

The committee was established in January after the Parliament voted the previous month to take responsibility for welfare matters over which it has power, rather than agreeing for these to be passed by the Westminster Parliament.

Its role is to keep under review the passage of the UK Welfare Reform Bill (which has now been passed) and monitor its implementation as it affects welfare provision in Scotland, and to consider relevant Scottish legislation and other consequential arrangements.

The Scottish bill proposes that the Scottish Government be given powers to introduce regulations under the UK Act and amend other Scottish legislation that relates to it. It does not relate to aspects of welfare reform which have already been agreed by the UK Parliament in the Welfare Reform Act. The timetable for the bill is expected to be very rapid, as Scottish ministers are keen to have all the legislation in place well before the deadline for introduction of the new welfare system on 1 April 2013.

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."

The committee is seeking views on the general principles of the bill and specifically on the universal credit and personal independence payments. It 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.

Mr McMahon added that the committee was keen to make sure that the bill received proper scrutiny, despite its rapid timetable. "We only have a few weeks to gather evidence", he said. "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.”

Those wishing to be considered to give oral evidence to the committee need to send in their submissions by the end of Wednesday 11 April. People wishing solely to submit written evidence have until the end of Monday 23 April.

Oral evidence will be heard on the mornings of Tuesday 17 and 24 April and 1 May.

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