News In Focus
Holyrood and Westminster committees combine on benefit exercise
A Holyrood committee and a Westminster committee are to come together for the the first joint exercies between commitees of the two Parliaments.
The Scottish Parliament's Social Security Committee and the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee will hold two joint meetings in Edinburgh and London to consider the delivery of the devolution of social security, one of the most complex aspects of the expanded devolution settlement for Scotland. They will look at the relationship between the Scottish and UK Governments and investigate whether it is working effectively.
On the 13 March the Committees will meet in the Scottish Parliament, taking evidence from third sector organisations, along with senior officials from the Scottish Government and the Department of Work & Pensions.
The following week, on 20 March, the committees have invited the Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, Angela Constance MSP and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Damian Green MP, to appear in front of them in Westminster.
Sandra White MSP, convener of the Social Security Committee said: "The devolution of social security powers to the Scottish Parliament is probably one of the most complex undertakings in the history of this Parliament. What this committee wants to ensure is that both Governments are working well together to ensure that this process runs as smoothly as possible.
“Ultimately no politician – be it in Holyrood or Westminster – wants the transfer of these powers to result in any difficulty for people who need social security. So significant is this issue that for the first time we will undertake this jointly with MPs.
“I hope this work will help make sure that the transfer of these powers can go ahead without issue and that no one will be adversely affected.”
Pete Wishart MP, chair of the Scottish Affairs Committee, added: “The devolution of welfare powers means that, for social security policy to work for the people of Scotland, Holyrood and Westminster must work well together to ensure the smooth transfer of powers and effective operation of the welfare system. Likewise, it is important that we work together with our partners on the Social Security Committee to scrutinise the effects of the policies as whole. We will also need to assess how well the two Governments are working together to co-ordinate policy.”