Latest Public Sector News


Scotland threatens to pull plug on Holyrood devolution plans

Scottish finance secretary and deputy first minister John Swinney MSP threatened to block additional devolved powers to Holyrood unless there was a fair deal on money.

After the issue came up at Westminster yesterday during PMQs, Swinney discussed it in the Scottish Parliament, saying the devolution proposed in the 2015 Scotland Bill would not be passed without a just “fiscal framework”.

Swinney argued the Bill fell short of recommendations made in the Smith Commission, dubbing it a “series of missed opportunities”.

He said: “It could have given the Scottish Parliament powers over employment law and trade unions, or all of social security – protecting people in Scotland from UK government policies.

“The Bill takes every opportunity to constrain and limit new powers and utterly fails to deliver the spirit of the Smith Commission. It maintains vetoes over universal credit and energy schemes and waters down the Smith proposals on social security, employment support and the Crown Estate.

“Despite receiving detailed evidence from the Scottish Government, the [Holyrood] cross-party devolution committee and a broad range of civic Scotland, no amendments to the Bill were accepted at its committee stage in the House of Commons.”

Cameron had earlier made assurances that “unprecedented devolution on taxes” was being delivered to Holyrood.

Swinney insisted that without a framework that is “fair to Scotland” and that allows the country to address its own priorities, its government would have “no hesitation” in refusing the Bill.

He asked MSPs of all parties to unite in making sure Smith Commission proposals were fully implemented –the “absolute minimum” the people of Scotland expected and deserved. MSPs responded by voting 105 to 13 in favour of this.

The Smith Commission was set up following the ‘No’ vote in the referendum on Scottish independence, after which political parties had to submit views on how powers should be devolved to Holyrood.

In November, the commission published a report recommending that the parliament should be given powers to create new benefits in devolved areas and make discretionary payments in any welfare area, as well as set income tax rates and bands on earned income while retaining all tax raised locally.

Labour is also intent on calling for all VAT revenue raised in Scotland to be assigned to Holyrood, rather than just proceeds of the first 10% as proposed in the Bill.

The party said it would allow Holyrood to design and operate under a different welfare system than Westminster, with Scottish ministers being able to top-up and create new welfare benefits.

Shadow Scottish secretary, Ian Murray, said: “We are focused not just on making sure that the Scottish Parliament gets the powers it needs, but also on how we will use those powers to improve the lives of people across the country.

“Our amendments would significantly increase the powers currently in the Scotland Bill by devolving £5bn more of revenue and ensuring that the Scottish Parliament has the powers over welfare that Scotland needs to design its own social security system.”

The Bill will return to the Commons over the next few weeks to be considered by MPs despite SNP dubbing the proposals a “gimmick”.

(Top image c. David Cheskin, PA Images)


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment



public sector executive tv

more videos >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the open more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News


Camberley inspired: investment and regeneration

11/03/2019Camberley inspired: investment and regeneration

The decline of the Great British high street has been one of the greatest c... more >
Swindon's solar-powered recycling centre saves council cash

11/03/2019Swindon's solar-powered recycling centre saves council cash

Steve Cains, head of power solutions at Public Power Solutions, the wholly-... more >


Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

17/12/2018Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

One of the public sector’s key technology partners has recently welco... more >

the raven's daily blog

Councils Can: LGA launches Spending Review campaign

18/03/2019Councils Can: LGA launches Spending Review campaign

Lord Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association, outlines his organisation’s campaign to make sure local government tops to government’s list for this ye... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this feeling of imminent change than the article James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has penned for us on p28. In it, he highlights... read more >