The SNP government has branded the UK employment support regime “not fit for modern Scotland” and pledged to make changes when Holyrood takes control of these in two years.
This could mean an end to automatic sanctions for those who don’t take part in the work programme, with Scottish ministers poised to call for greater “flexibilities” in the system.
New powers to help the disabled and long-term jobless, including the current work programme and the work choices scheme, will be transferred north in 2017 as part of the post-referendum Smith Commission deal on further devolution.
The SNP have said this stops short of full “job creating powers”, but cabinet secretary for fair work, skills and training Roseanna Cunningham said some “very welcome new powers” are coming as she launched a national “public discussion” on how they will be implemented yesterday.
“The work programme as it stands is not fit for a modern Scotland but there may be aspects of the current system that do work for individuals and organisations and we want to hear those views too,” Ms Cunningham said.
“We want to implement these powers in a way which complements existing devolved services and creates a distinctive Scottish approach. This is an incredible opportunity to shape our future employment services to the needs of Scots jobseekers.”
Ministers say employment support services don’t do enough to help women and younger Scots and say Holyrood will make changes.
A new advisory group, to be led by Glasgow University Professor Alan McGregor, has been established to oversee the consultation.