Transition to universal credit: Scotland

This page sets out legislation that is relevant to welfare reform and universal credit specifically relating to Scotland. Universal credit is currently rolling-out in Scotland as it is in England and Wales. The only differences in Scotland are in relation to payment flexibilities – you can find detail about how these payment flexibilities work in Scotland in our payment section.

Welfare Reform Act 2012 – Scotland
Scotland Act 2016
Social Security (Scotland) Bill
Secondary Legislation

Welfare Reform Act 2012 – Scotland

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 broadly applies only to England, Wales and Scotland. There are a couple of exceptions to this set out in Section 149 Welfare Reform Act 2012:

Scotland Act 2016

The Scotland Act 2016 received Royal Assent on 24 March 2016. The Act sets out the powers that are being transferred to the Scottish Parliament or Scottish Ministers. Part 3 of the Act relates to welfare benefits with Sections 29 and 30 relating specifically to Universal Credit. There is also a power to create other new benefits under Section 28.

You can find the Bill as introduced, amendments, debate transcripts and explanatory notes on the Parliament UK website.

The first set of regulations, laid on 14 July 2016, set out the timetable for the transfer to Holyrood of a number of welfare powers, including the ability to:

The majority of these powers transfer on 5 September 2016. Discretionary housing payments transfer on 1 April 2017.

In April 2017, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions wrote to the Scottish Social Security Committee concerning the transfer of powers. The letter confirmed that:

The full text of the letter is available on the Scottish Parliament website.

Social Security (Scotland) Bill

The Bill was introduced by the Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, Angela Constance MSP on 20 June 2017.

The Bill sets out an over-arching legislative framework for the administration of social security in Scotland. It was brought forward as a result of measures following changes to the devolution settlement enacted in the Scotland Act 2016. These measures give the Scottish Parliament legislative competence over disability, industrial injuries and carer's benefits, benefits for maternity, funeral and heating expenses and Discretionary Housing Payments. They also provide for the ability to top up benefits which remain reserved to the UK Parliament and allow new benefits to be created in certain areas. 

As a result, eleven existing social security benefits will become a devolved responsibility. They are:

The following documents can be found on the Scottish Parliament website:

On 29 June, the Social Security Committee launched a call for written evidence on the Bill.

Secondary Legislation

Updated 10 October 2017