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Section 1 of the Act provides powers to make provision in consequence of the introduction in 2013 of universal credit and the abolition of some existing social security benefits by the UK Act. These powers are exercisable only for devolved purposes and so could be used, for example, to makeconsequential or supplemental provision in the devolved area of passported benefits where that provision is considered appropriate in light of the abolition of existing social security benefits by the UK Act.
The power set out in section 1 of the Act is needed because the existing benefits,which will be abolished, have links to devolved areas, the main one being that they are used as an eligibility hook for a variety of devolved, Scottish “passported benefits”. These include benefits in kind such as free school lunches and cash benefits such as the education maintenance allowance. When the existing benefits are abolished, so too will the current, associated eligibility hooks.
The Scottish Ministers may use the power provided by this section to make changes for a devolved purpose such as to refer consequentially to some aspect of the new universal credit or to supplement the gap left by the abolition of the hook benefit, for example by creating new eligibility criteria for certain passported benefits conferred in devolved areas such as health or access to justice.
Existing social security benefits also impact on other devolved areas such as pre-action requirements where a landlord’s grounds for possession include rent arrears and cancellation of adoption allowances. The Scottish Ministers could also make freestanding provision using this power provided it were for a devolved purpose and was required in consequence of provision made by or under Part 1 of the UK Act.
Section 2 of the Act provides powers to make provision in consequence of the introduction in 2013 of personal independence payments and the accompanying abolition of disability living allowance by the UK Act. This enabling power is exercisable only for devolved purposes. It could be used, for example, to make supplemental or consequential provision in the devolved area of legal aid where the governing legislation refers to the mobility component of disability living allowance, where consequential or supplemental provision is considered appropriate in light of the abolition of disability living allowance by the UK Act.
Also see news, item Welfare Reform (Further Provision) (Scotland) Act 2012 receives Royal Assent (Reported by UPDATE 8th August 2012)