Most aspects of welfare policy and spending are currently the responsibility of the United Kingdom parliament. This discussion seminar was not designed to identify or advocate any policies relating to the welfare agenda. It was intended to provide information and expert commentary about the welfare related issues which the people of Scotland may wish to consider when deciding on 18 September 2014 if Scotland should be an independent country.
Social security spending is set to continue rising as a proportion of all public spending, with pensioners being protected in relative terms and the pressures being most keenly felt by those in the working age groups and those with children. Attitudes to welfare reform in Scotland and the rest of the UK will be explored, including whether there are options for further devolution of welfare powers if Scotland remains a part of the United Kingdom, and the significant issues which would arise should Scotland become an independent country. The seminar also took account of some international comparators which may be relevant for Scotland.
The welfare system and public services are inextricably linked, and responsibility for many of Scotland’s important public services are already devolved to the Scottish Parliament – such as education, the National Health Service, housing and policing. The seminar did not cover these matters in any great depth, but inevitably touched upon them within a wider welfare context.