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Scotland Act 1998

Details of Provisions
First Reservation

This reserves legislative competence in respect of schemes supported from central or local funds which provide assistance for social security purposes to or in respect of individuals by way of benefits.  This relates to social security benefits (such as retirement pension, income support or housing and council tax benefit) which are directly administered and funded by central or local government in whole or in part.  The reservation covers all aspects of the establishment, financing and administration of such benefits and activity connected with them (such as, decision-making and appeals and anti-fraud activity).  The Scottish Parliament does not have competence to set up or finance benefit schemes where these are for social security purposes (for example, by seeking to provide benefits for social security purposes to people who are not entitled to claim certain social security benefits), but the reservation does not prevent it from providing benefits or allowances for other purposes within its competence, for example education maintenance grants or fosterage allowances.  A non-exhaustive definition of social security purposes is in the interpretation paragraph.

Second Reservation

This reserves competence to require persons (including companies and authorities) to establish and administer schemes for social security purposes, to make payments to or in respect of those schemes and to keep records and supply information in connection with them.  The reservation is intended to cover activities to do with National Insurance, such as the requirement on individuals to pay and employers to collect National Insurance contributions; and to cover those types of social security provision which operate through requirements on employers or others to make payments in accordance with a regulatory framework (such as statutory sick pay and statutory maternity pay) rather than by direct central or local government delivery.  The funding of social security schemes and the requirement for others such as local authorities to provide them (e.g. housing and council tax benefit) is also reserved.

Social security legislation also imposes requirements on employers to make payments of a minimum amount of sick pay or maternity pay in prescribed circumstances.  This reservation also covers such arrangements.

Third Reservation

This reserves legislative competence over the circumstances in which a person is liable to maintain himself or another for the purposes of social security legislation and the Child Support Acts 1991 to 1995.  Social security legislation places a legal duty on an individual to maintain himself and his spouse and dependant children or any person in respect of whom he has given an undertaking to maintain under the Immigration Act 1971.  This requirement applies generally but it only becomes relevant when a person makes a claim to an income related social security benefit.  When this happens the Secretary of State may seek an order from the sheriff in Scotland for the recovery of the benefit from the liable person.  So far as the maintenance of a dependant child is concerned, that legislation is largely superseded by the Child Support Acts 1991 and 1995 (the subject-matter of which is separately reserved under Section F2).

Fourth reservation

This reserves the subject-matter of the Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme. The Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme provides for compensation for injury resulting from vaccination.  Vaccine damage payments are determined and paid through the same channels as social security.

Illustrations of reservation

The illustrations provide a non-exhaustive list of some of the types of matter falling within the reservation:


National Insurance.  This covers National Insurance contributions as well as contributory National Insurance benefits such as the state retirement pension;


Social Fund.  This covers grants and loans for special needs;


administration and funding of housing benefit and council tax benefit;


recovery of benefits paid because of accident, injury or disease from persons paying damages and deductions from benefits for the purpose of meeting an individual’s debts;


sharing information between government departments for the purposes of the enactments relating to social security; and


making decisions for the purposes of schemes mentioned in the reservation and appeals against such decisions.

Exceptions from reservation

This provides for the subject-matter of following enactments which might otherwise fall within the reservation, but which relate to devolved matters, to be excepted from the reservation:


Part II of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968, which provides for the promotion of social welfare by local authorities.  This includes provision in exceptional circumstances for payments to persons in need and other social welfare services such as the provision of home-help and residential nursing accommodation;


section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970, which relates to the provision of various welfare services by local authorities to persons resident in their area;


section 50 of the Children Act 1975, which gives local authorities the power to make payments towards maintenance for children;


section 15 of the Enterprise and New Towns (Scotland) Act 1990 (industrial injuries benefit), which deals with payments to persons undergoing training who have injured themselves at work; and


sections 22, 29 and 30 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, which provide for payments to be made or other assistance to be provided to children or their families.  Section 22 imposes a duty on local authorities to safeguard and promote the welfare of children who are in need by providing a range and level of services appropriate to their needs.  In exceptional circumstances cash payments can be made.  Section 29 imposes a duty on local authorities to assist young persons, who they formerly looked after, at school leaving age or subsequently through the provision of advice or other assistance including financial assistance.  Section 30 authorises local authorities to give financial assistance to such young persons to meet the cost of education and training.


For the purposes of the reservation, “benefits” includes pensions, allowances, grants, loans and any other form of financial assistance.  This ensures that all the various types of financial assistance provided as part of social security are covered.

Providing assistance for social security purposes to or in respect of individuals includes, among other things, providing assistance to or in respect of individuals:


who qualify by reason of old age, survivorship, disability, sickness, incapacity, injury, unemployment, maternity or the care of children or others needing care;


who qualify by reason of low income; or


in relation to their housing costs or liabilities for local taxes.  This includes all the main purposes of social security provision.  It also includes assistance in relation to housing costs or liabilities for local taxes, as described above.

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Text created by the government department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Public Acts except Appropriation, Consolidated Fund, Finance and Consolidation Acts.


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