Scottish Lib Dems: give Holyrood control over welfare

Public Entrance Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Lib Dem conference took place this Saturday, with the party deciding that welfare should be devolved from Westminster to Holyrood.

Until recently, the party backed keeping welfare under control of Westminster, so this change in direction will be welcomed by the SNP who want independence, and Scots who want more autonomy over issues close home.

This move is the next step in a thread of Scottish Lib Dem thought, as the party back home rule within a federal United Kingdom.

Saturday's conference took place in Dunfermline.

According to the BBC, Alistair Carmichael, the Lib Dem MP for Orkney and Shetland and Secretary of State for Scotland, said: "More powers are coming. On tax, on welfare, on whichever new powers are devolved, the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish government, will have increased ability to act, enhanced accountability to the Scottish people, and the chance to change Scotland for good."

Despite a ‘no’ vote in Scotland’s independence referendum back in September, it is clear that the country wants more control over its affairs. This move by the Liberal Democrats in Scotland is recognition of that. Additionally, a recent Survation poll found that the majority of Scots want control of fracking licenses to leave Westminster and go to Scottish authorities.  The recent HITC article on this can be found here:

A poll last month, conducted by Panelbase, found that a clear majority (66%) of Scots wanted the Smith Commission to result in devo max.

Additionally, the poll also found that even more - 75% of respondents - said that the new powers Scotland will get should include control over welfare. Obviously, the much-hated bedroom tax is part of the reason to explain why Scots wish welfare to be controlled by Holyrood.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats, led by Willie Rennie in Holyrood have very little influence, with the party just having 5 MSPs in the Edinburgh chamber. The party has eleven MPs, but that will likely fall dramatically next May. Sunday’s YouGov poll also puts the party on 5% in Scotland, compared to across the UK on 7%.

The party has little sway, but its change of heart to wanting to devolve welfare to Scotland shows that the country wants more powers and that the talk of more powers is likely to result in action.