The Scottish Government has unveiled plans to overhaul the benefits system in Scotland.
The changes were outlined by social justice secretary Alex Neil on Tuesday and include the creation of a new Scottish social security agency.
Eleven benefits are being devolved to Holyrood from Westminster as part of the Smith process on more powers for the Scottish Parliament.
The UK Parliament will also hand over powers to create new benefits and supplement payments to welfare recipients.
Alex Neil declared it “an historic day for the parliament and for Scotland” while Scottish Labour’s Neil Findlay said MSPs now had “a real opportunity to do things differently”.
The Scottish Conservatives’ John Lamont added that the Scottish Government “now has the opportunity to offer their alternative plans for dealing with the complex issues attached to welfare provisions”.
The power transfer marks the largest single extension of Holyrood’s authority and will affect over one million Scots.
But what does it mean for you and your family?
The benefits system in Scotland is changing. Currently, it is run from the department for work and pensions at Westminster but this is set to end and the Scottish Government will be put in charge of 11 benefits.
A separate Scottish benefits agency will be set up to handle the payments.
The parties to the Smith Commission agreed on partial devolution of welfare to Scotland in the wake of the referendum on independence. The Scotland Act made that agreement law and now the UK Government will have to hand over the relevant powers to its counterpart north of the border.
Over one million Scots receive winter fuel payments making it by far the largest single benefit in terms of recipients.
The Scottish Government will have the power to change eligibility for these benefits which could increase or decrease the total number of recipients.
Social justice secretary Alex Neil outlined five principles that will guide the Scottish Government’s approach to welfare:
1. “Social security is an investment in the people of Scotland”
2. “Respect for the dignity of individuals will be at the heart of everything we do”
3. “Our processes and services will be evidence based and designed with the people of Scotland”
4. “We will strive for continuous improvement in all our policies, processes and systems, putting the user experience first”
5. “The need to demonstrate that our services are efficient and value for money”
According to Alex Neil, if the SNP is re-elected as the governing party in Edinburgh, a Bill to establish a Scottish welfare agency will be placed before Holyrood within one year.
These benefits will be where the majority of the new Scottish welfare agency’s spending goes.
The cost of the disability living allowance alone is more than the current combined budgets of three Scottish government departments; culture and external affairs, rural affairs, food and the environment and training, youth and women’s employment.
Nothing, for now. The Scottish Government says it wants to make the transition as smooth as possible for claimants.
Report by Aidan Kerr, STV’s digital politics reporter. You can contact him at email@example.com.