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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid) 30 September 2020

Agenda: Point of Order, Portfolio Question Time, Supporting Students through the Global Pandemic, Family Care Givers, Agriculture Bill, Social Security (Up-rating of Benefits) Bill, Business Motions, Parliamentary Bureau Motions, Decision Time, Albion Rovers FC (Mark Millar Donation)


Social Security (Up-rating of Benefits) Bill

The next item of business is consideration of legislative consent motion S5M-22887, on the Social Security (Up-rating of Benefits) Bill.


On 18 September, the United Kingdom Government made a formal request that Scottish ministers give in-principle agreement to the inclusion of provisions in a UK bill relating to the uprating of industrial death benefit in Scotland. Given the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic to average earnings this year, UK ministers believe that legislation may be necessary to avoid a freeze of state pensions and other benefits that are uprated in line with average earnings. Legislation sets out that those benefits can be increased only when there has been an increase in earnings. Although that primarily relates to reserved benefits, it also impacts on industrial death benefit, for which the Scottish Government has had executive competence since 1 April 2020.

Industrial death benefit is paid to the widow, widower or dependents of someone who died from an industrial accident or disease before 1988. It is now abolished for new claims, and we estimate there to be only around 300 people in Scotland currently in receipt of the benefit. My priority is to ensure that the rate at which they are paid remains consistent with the rate applying to those in receipt of the benefit in England and Wales.

As a means of delivering that, UK ministers offered to include provision in their bill to give Scottish ministers the necessary powers to deliver uprating legislation consistently with the UK Government’s approach. A legislative consent motion was therefore lodged on 24 September. The UK Government has strongly requested completion of the passage of the LCM by 30 September to allow for the bill’s second reading in the House of Commons on 1 October.

The alternative to a legislative consent motion would be equivalent Scottish primary legislation. That would mean seeking to have Scottish primary legislation in force by mid-November, with truncated development time, truncated scrutiny and the need to request truncated royal assent. Given the pressures on the Parliament’s time and the fact that the LCM affects only one benefit, I do not consider that a viable option.

For those reasons, this action is necessary and appropriate in order to protect the incomes of recipients of industrial death benefit and to maintain that benefit at the same rate as that applying in the rest of the UK. I propose that the Parliament agrees to the provisions.

I move,

That the Parliament agrees that the relevant provisions of the Social Security (Up-rating of Benefits) Bill, introduced in the House of Commons on 23 September, relating to Industrial Death Benefit, so far as these matters fall within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament, or executive competence of Scottish Ministers should be considered by the UK Parliament.

We will consider the motion at decision time.