The social security system is changing with devolution of disability and ill health-related benefits, support for carers and a range of other payments. There is a public interest in ensuring that the Scottish Government translates its policy intentions into workable legislation and that this is done in a timely, accurate way. The assurance that comes with independent scrutiny, to complement parliamentary scrutiny, is one element of this. The Scotland Act 2016 rules out a role in Scottish social security matters for existing UK scrutiny and advisory bodies (the Social Security Advisory Committee and the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council). Consultation on the Social Security (Scotland) Bill asked for views on how scrutiny should be undertaken to address this gap. Responses were published in February 2017.
The Social Security Minister has asked the Disability and Carers Benefits Expert Advisory Group to take a closer look at the scrutiny question. We established a short-life workstream, led by Judith Paterson. Working over the autumn, workstream members have met three times, including a stakeholder event in Glasgow, to grapple with key issues: scrutiny of regulations, treatment of employment injury assistance (currently industrial injuries), oversight of how the Scottish system is faring against the principles in the Bill and standards to be set out in the Charter, and how arrangements should relate to the Scottish Parliament and to existing UK bodies.
This report sets out our findings and recommendations to the Minister. We present this report to help inform the Scottish Government's thinking and the Scottish Parliament's deliberations on Stage Two of the Bill in the New Year.
I would like to thank Judith Paterson for leading the process with great skill and energy against a tight timescale; workstream and advisory group members for their valuable insights; Parliamentary Committee members and public bodies consulted; and Nicola Radley for steering the workstream with patience and meticulous attention to detail, ensuring the report was completed on time.
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