Bloomberg News

Independent Scotland Should Share U.K. Welfare in Transition

June 11, 2013

An independent Scotland should continue to administer pensions and benefits jointly with the rest of the U.K. for a transitional period, according to a welfare working group set up by the Scottish government.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the proposals subject to the government being able to reverse benefit cuts it opposed. Sharing administrative arrangements could last until 2019 until the Scottish government established its own welfare system.

“A transitional period of shared administration would only be in Scotland’s interests if it allows us, from day one of independence, to address the inequities of the current system and work towards a system that better reflects Scotland’s needs and circumstances,” Sturgeon said today in an e-mailed statement.

The welfare paper is the latest study published by the Scottish government ahead of next year’s referendum on Sept. 18. Independence is the cornerstone policy of the ruling Scottish National Party.

More than 10,000 people are employed by the U.K. Department of Work and Pensions in Scotland. Two pension centers in Dundee and Motherwell handle about 20 percent of all U.K. state pensions and about 25 percent of pension credit claims. A number of payments to Scottish claimants are handled by processing centers in England.

“Immediately separating these services would present serious risks to the continuity of payments to people in both Scotland and England,” the report said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Woodifield in Edinburgh at pwoodifield@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Douglas Lytle at dlytle@bloomberg.net


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