Devolution

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Two issues dominate the constitutional landscape in the UK: the UK’s membership of the European Union (EU); and the unstable constitutional settlements between the UK and the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Whilst distinct, these two issues are deeply entwined.
 
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A camel, so the saying goes, is a horse designed by a committee. This week’s publication of The Future Delivery of Social Security in Scotland, the report by the Scottish Welfare Reform Committee, would seem to support that idea. The committee took written evidence from 98 individuals and organisations, and listened to the views of 48 people directly.

The Scottish Government has always prided itself on having a more participatory and inclusive style of policy making than its Westminster counterpart, involving a wider range of civic voices in the process.

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The draft Wales Bill represents the fourth model of devolved government for Wales since 1999 but, says Elin Royles, in its current form it is unlikely to be the last. 
 
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In headline terms, the Spending Review looks little different from the public finance forecasts in the summer budget. The Government will achieve a fiscal surplus by the end of this parliament (the first time that this has been achieved since 2001). And total public spending as a percentage of GDP will fall from 40% currently to 36%.
 
But Osborne has managed to achieve this whilst simultaneously being more generous on the spending side.
 
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The Scottish government’s block grant allocation between 2015-16 and 2020-21 was set in the 25th November spending review delivered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Current spending will increase from £25.9 billion now, to £26.5 billion in 2019-20. This represents a 5% real cut (equivalent to £1.3 billion). In contrast, due to the UK government’s decision to increase capital spending by £12 billion compared with its plans last July, Scotland’s capital budget will increase from £3 billion to £3.5 billion by 2020-21, an increase of around 10% in real terms.
 
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Devolution (Further Powers) Committee guide to Scottish Devolution

The Devolution (Further Powers) Committee has produced a factual and impartial Guide to devolution in Scotland. The Guide has been deliberately designed to be simple and accessible, and sign-post the reader to further sources of information. It contains a short history of devolution to date, an overview of the new powers that may be devolved to Scotland if the Scotland Bill is passed and some facts and figures on the tax and welfare provisions.

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