Welfare Powers Should Be In Scotland’s Hands, Says SNP

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The Scottish National Party (SNP) has today reiterated its call for the full devolution of economic and welfare powers to the Scottish Government.

The UK Government has already agreed a number of new welfare powers for Scotland, recommended by the Smith Commission, including the power to vary the frequency of Universal Credit payments, set the rules for carers and disability benefits and legislate for Discretionary Housing Payments.

However, the SNP said in November last year that the new powers offered by the UK Government “do not reflect the full wishes of the people of Scotland”.

Delegates at the SNP party conference slammed the UK Government’s welfare cuts for causing suffering and misery to the poorest people in Scotland.

They welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment to protect vulnerable people from the worst impact of welfare reforms, which includes £90 million to mitigate the controversial ‘bedroom tax’, but condemned the £6bn of Westminster welfare cuts due to fall on Scotland by 2016 – the majority of which will fall on women (£4.5bn).

Delegates supported a motion put forward by SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford and Kevin Stewart MSP, who argued that “UK Ministers holding any kind of veto on Scottish welfare policy is completely unacceptable”.

The motion – Protecting Scotland’s Poorest – reads: “That Conference welcomes the investment from the Scottish Government of £300 million between 2013-14 and 2015-16 to mitigate the UK Government’s devastating welfare cuts.

“Conference notes that this includes £90 million to fully mitigate the iniquitous Bedroom Tax and £114 million for the Scottish Welfare Fund which has helped almost 120,000 households since April 2013.

“Conference nevertheless notes that this investment is in the face of total welfare cuts in Scotland of £6 billion by 2016 – £4.5 billion of which will fall on the incomes of women.

“Conference believes this highlights why full economic and welfare powers should be in Scotland’s hands rather than Westminster’s – and why UK Ministers holding any kind of veto on Scottish welfare policy is completely unacceptable.”

Dr Eilidh Whiteford said: “Westminster’s welfare cuts are causing misery in communities across Scotland.

“And while the Scottish Government is doing everything that it can with the powers currently in Scotland’s hands, there are still far too many key decisions over welfare being taken in London – with 85 per cent of the welfare budget to remain in Westminster’s hands.

“These cuts are having a disproportionate impact on women in Scotland who are bearing the brunt of the Tories’ unfair policies.

“Westminster is badly letting down women in Scotland.”