The Scottish Government can’t mitigate all the effects of ‘welfare reform’

In the comments to my previous post, Ian Davidson drew attention to the Scottish Government’s report on ‘mitigating’ the effects of welfare reform.  It’s beyond the scope of the SG; they lack the powers and the resources.  I was asked by Common Weal journalist David Jamieson  yesterday to pick out a couple of leading issues, and I couldn’t oblige: my comment was that every one of the issues was a tragedy for the people affected, and that’s pretty much what he ran with.   His report is here.

I’m privileged to have perceptive, well-informed comments to the blog – thank you all.

 

8 comments

  1. Alan Parker

    With greatest respect they can find resources to fund illegal named person scheme , a current £350 million underspend , how much is the bill for CAP I.T systems ,the list is endless and it is down to Scottish Executive making a choice , lets not forget other analysis out shows the cost not to be as great as claimed by some , notwithstanding persistent SNP denials that they cannot do it yet F.O.I request prove otherwise. we even had the question time exchange between the then works and pensions secretary Damien green and the SNPs Stephen Gethins , were he is told the fact he can use section 28 of the Scotland act. Yoiu can see the exchange here:

    https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/797688/Damian-Green-blasts-SNP-MP-whinging-Question-Time

    Below is example of text from research and F.O.I requests showing it can be done , Full analysis here:.

    http://rwbblog.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-snp-and-great-waspi-cover-up.html

    ” In Neil Lovett’s FOI this all boiled down to an interesting clause in Section 28 of the Scotland Act 2016. Section 28 enables the Scottish Government to create new benefits to anyone in Scotland provided it isn’t a reserved benefit (because if a benefit was reserved you wouldn’t duplicate the benefits you would just top them up under the powers in Section 24).

    So surely with this power the Scottish Government can pay a benefit to these WASPI women between the original SPA and the increased SPA? Well, there is one element of doubt here in clause (2) of Section 28:

    The question is would a payment to WASPI women between original SPA and the increased SPA fall foul of this clause. Clearly, as these women have not reached the actual state pension age, then by definition a payment under Section 28 could not be classified as a pension (pensions can only kick in AFTER the State Pension Age). Similarly old age would normally be defined as after State Pension Age, therefore it is highly likely that this exemption would not apply in the case of WASPI women. ”

    http://rwbblog.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-snp-and-waspi-update.html

    Further on my point yesterday , the DHP funding to mitigate spare bedroom this report can be found in part 4 in the research briefing SN06899 , which dealt at that time with 76,000 people it affects it also states a fourfold increase in claims. in 2013 UK provided £18 million and Scottish executive £20 million , it currently stands at a £15 million UKG to £35 million SE split

    The evidence is there that far more can be done for the sick , elderly and disabled in Scotland than the Scottish executive let on , they should be held to account for this.

  2. Alan Parker

    Here is the F.O.I response from Scottish government to mitigate the third child policy , £20 million this year , £40 million next rising to £110 million by 2021/22 , no more than the cost of the named person a third of the cost of the underspend every year we seem to have.

    As I said it’s about Scottish executive choices and they have chosen not to , it’s more about politics for me than anything.

    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/482700/response/1168642/attach/html/4/Impact%20of%20April%202017%202%20Child%20Limit%20to%20Tax%20Credit%20and%20Universal%20Credit%20aw….pdf.html

  3. Paul Spicker

    You’re giving examples which refer to millions. The shortfall identified in the report by 2020/21 refers to £3.7 billion. The Scottish Government can do more, but it can’t cover all the stops.

    • Alan Parker

      My point was about choices and what is said and not said what is ignored and not ignored , it also was a point about the politics of it all and claims made and the rhetoric , lets not forget it can be proven that the Scottish executive alone does not mitigate some of that funding, it begs the question which other funding from UK is getting used for other mitigation in that £125 million a year bill? The report makes lots of assertions and on the third child policy , my previous post clearly shows that this would cost £20 million this year £40 million next, so they can do more to meet that child poverty plan from 2017 which they list the loss of third child as a cause in part 7, so you see many like me feel the Scottish executive are playing games on one hand complaining about third child , WASPi woman and even PIP assessments as the report states , ignoring the fact the can simply instruct different criteria now to the DWP and fund third child by as little as £20 million in year one.

      I also believe recent changes including those on daily living PIP will continue with legacy benefits like ESA and won’t be switched to UC, notwithstanding the fudge by SE on that issue and fortnightly payments etc

      https://universalcreditsuffer.com/2018/09/30/dwp-stop-accepting-new-universal-credit-claims-from-people-on-pip-and-revert-back-to-legacy-system/

      Again unfortunately for many we feel it suits the Scottish executive for all this to happen , the cuts which need not have happened if they simply changed the rules in 2016 as per Scotland act are happening because the Scottish Executive allow it to happen, it is either folk getting used as a political football or more insidious than that, because many feel for the SNP executives ultimate goal to be met , it needs costs cut to achieve it, so rather than remedy many of the cuts it’s lets keep the blame on Whitehall while reducing our bill which is needed to meet our ultimate goal.

      Or maybe I am just a cynic !

  4. Ian Davidson

    I agree with Paul’s overall assessment; i.e. that the financial damage caused by UK welfare reform is too big for the Scottish Govt to effectively mitigate. It is possible that they might make some additional resources available (e.g. modest increases to SWF, DHPs) and other measures as part of the 19-20 budget round, we will just have to wait and see. Alan’s very detailed arguments about WASPI and other matters are too complex for me to fully assimilate; however I do understand the general thrust of his argument which is that SG has the power to legislate via Holyrood to make compensatory “WASPI” payments but choses to suggest that it could not (“ultra vires”) rather than should not (cost too much)? At this point I think we have to agree that argument and presentation becomes a matter of constitutional politics which divides opinion and will continue to do so. Indeed we have to remember that the ongoing devolution of certain benefit powers from UK to Scotland was borne from the very political post 2014 referendum Smith Commission process etc and it will continue to be a politically driven process with administrative, economic fiscal, legal & other aspects? From the perspective of claimants in Scotland who are suffering now and will continue to suffer as a consequence of UK “welfare reform”, perhaps it would be more accurate (less “spin”) for the SG to talk about the benefits (sic) of the evolving Scottish Social Security System as arising mainly in the future whilst acknowledging the current “pain”? One analogy: if you are suffering from a serious health condition today, it is not always helpful if you read in the media about the prospect of a cure (or partial cure) which on investigation turns out to be at least five years away from being made generally available? However, given that every politician in Scotland is constantly preparing for the next election, referendum or whatever, it may be unrealistic to expect a “zero spin” approach from any perspective? I reserve further comment until we see what emerges from the 19-20 budgetary discussions which is of course a highly political process!

    • Alan Parker

      Can i ask then Ian with a further comment of mine not approved , how do the Scottish executive plan to pay for this if they get their ultimate goal , with the growth commission planning far worse austerity than anything we have suffered , and again proper research by some respected people and organisations has shown no real term cuts to Scotland’s budget over 8 – 10 years (TME Totals) as per Angus Robertson TV interview with Andrew Neil , it’s how the SE spend it, in fact the F.A.I. tell us that we have same level of RDEL budget at our highest point of growth in last ten years. Lets not forget we still have expenditure £13 billion more than our tax take so why not use them or is the American term Limousine Liberals apply here ?

      http://www.parliament.scot/budget/track-the-budget/stacked-group-bars-2015/stackedbar.html#

      So if the actual figures are true and the analysis of F.A.I and Andrew Neil is correct then the SE use obfuscation , so we go back again to why not simply change the rules when handing back the powers, every legal standpoint used by just about every charity in Scotland tells us they could ? Politically not a good move in Scotland is my first thought. So again down to choice and the Scottish Executive chose not to.

      As for budgetary discussions we will see what the SNP will concede to the Greens and we know it will unlikely benefit anyone particularly the poor , sick or disabled , maybe they should demand the SNP change the rules at the DWP for Scottish recipients on Welfare , DLA to PIP lifetime awards stay lifetime , audio record all assessments, in fact stop PIP roll out in Scotland , now that is something Scotland would get behind.

      Andrew Neil – Angus Robertson TV interview.:

  5. Ian Davidson

    Point of information: I don’t want to comment on or initiate any further debate on this thread. However I have just skim-read the SP Official Report of yesterday’s (2.10.18) debate on the SS Charter. Perhaps the most “concrete” statement from the SG, in response to a question from an MSP, was confirmation that it is intended that the SG will have accepted responsibility for all the devolved benefits by the end of this Parliament, i.e. by May 2021.

    • Alan Parker

      Read that myself , do I believe it ? No, Scottish executive track record on IT systems is deplorable. So I won’t hold my breath.

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