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The Smith Commission seems set to include some welfare devolution in the Heads of Agreement to be announced on Thursday. But what does welfare devolution mean in practice? Professor Nicola McEwen argues that there are a variety of models of welfare devolution, each with different implications for the ability of the Scottish Parliament to redesign welfare and meet social and economic needs.

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Much of the debate since the referendum has focussed on which additional powers are likely to be devolved from Westminster to Holyrood. Rather less attention has been paid to the likely impact on the Scottish economy of devolving any of the powers that have been suggested. At the time of writing, the details of the Smith proposals are not known but we can safely assume that he is unlikely to support either the most modest or the most-far-reaching of those put forward by the participating parties.

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“Flaw” in Barnett formula protects Scotland and Northern Ireland from hundreds of millions of cuts

At present, the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland get most of their money in the form of a block grant from the UK Treasury. How this grant changes from year-to-year is largely determined by the Barnett formula – which aims at providing the same pounds-per-person change in funding for the devolved governments as is the case in England.

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