Administering Social Security in Wales

In Wales social security is currently reserved to the UK Government, with the exception of some benefits. Since the devolution of social security in Scotland (2018) there have been renewed calls to review the social security system in Wales. The First Minister asked us to assess the issues that would need to be taken into account in order to determine the desirability and feasibility of devolving some aspects of the administration of social security in Wales. We have published a rapid review of existing evidence on this issue and identified that this assessment should address four key issues:

  1. What outcomes would the devolution of administration of social security be designed to achieve? This can be used to guide decisions about what changes could be made and can be articulated through a set of core principles underpinning a Welsh approach to social security.
  2. What aspects of the current arrangements for administering social security prevent the achievement of these outcomes? This means identifying which benefits are in scope for reform and how those are currently administered.
  3. How could those aspects of social security be changed in order to achieve these outcomes? For example, taking a more consistent approach to administering social security, providing enhanced support to claimants, redesigning benefits or creating new ones.
  4. What are the legal and fiscal implications of the changes that would be needed and what other factors would need to be considered? Along with legal and fiscal implications for the Welsh Government (such as changes to the devolution settlement), the risks of any unintended consequences and changing demand for benefits also need careful consideration.

Our hope is that this preliminary analysis helps to inform discussion about additional analysis and evidence related to devolving the administration of social security in Wales.