Monday, 14 December 2015

UK spending-cuts to hit employment services

Local MSP Kenneth Gibson has written to UK Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith to express “serious concerns” over Tory Government plans to slash funding by £40m for employment services in Scotland.

Following the Smith Commission, which was supposed to provide Scotland with enhanced devolution after independence was rejected in the 2014 referendum, the UK Government agreed to cede to the Scottish Parliament control over some employment services, such as the Work Programme and Work Choice.  However, the recent Spending Review announced by Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne revealed funding for such services will be dramatically cut over the next few years.

Kenneth Gibson, Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Finance Committee, said, “The Department for Work and Pensions intends to cut spending on Scottish programmes by around £40-million annually - around 75-percent.  This undermines the agreed aims of the Smith Commission and shows how sleekit the UK Government has become; devolving powers without the resources to deliver them.”

The SNP MSP for Cunninghame North noted, “This is in breach of the philosophy of ‘no detriment’, which is integral to the entire devolution process, whereby neither the UK nor Scotland should suffer financial loss when a power is devolved.

“Of course, the Tories have form on this: pre-Smith they devolved Council Tax benefit, minus £42-million a year, which councils and the SNP Government had to find from elsewhere, to the detriment of other budgets.

“This latest blow to Scotland shows how hollow the so-called 'Vow' to Scotland was.”

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