Reform Scotland


Think tank says Scottish Government should create a single department for tax and social security

Reform Scotland, the independent, non-party think tank, has responded to the Scottish Government’s Consultation on Social Security in Scotland.

In its submission, Reform Scotland states its view that the volume of social security expenditure being devolved to Scotland is too small, and that vast majority of welfare powers should sit with Holyrood.

The think tank also believes that the confusion and inefficiency caused by both HMRC and the DWP having a role in benefits should lead the Scottish Government to the conclusion that Scotland should do it differently and create a single department.

At Westminster, welfare and tax are split between two departments, though there are overlaps, such as child benefit and tax credits, which are welfare benefits but are the responsibility of HMRC. This split in responsibilities damages transparency, openness and accountability, and means that recipients have to deal with two different departments to receive their entitlements.

Commenting, Reform Scotland’s Research Director Alison Payne said:

“We know from bitter experience at Westminster that the administration of tax and benefits by both HMRC and the DWP is confusing, inefficient and frustrating for users.

“The Scottish Government has an opportunity to start from scratch and create a more efficient and user-friendly tax and welfare system, rather than repeating the mistakes of Westminster.

“It is also important that we create a system now which can easily adapt to increased responsibilities in future. We want to see the Scottish Government create a better, more coherent and transparent system.”