The Scotland Act 2016

The act gives extra powers to the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government, most notably:

    • The ability to amend sections of the Scotland Act 1998 which relate to the operation of the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government within the United Kingdom including control of its electoral system (subject to a two-thirds majority within the parliament for any proposed change).

    • The ability to use such amendment to devolve powers to the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Ministers over areas such as abortion, welfare foods, onshore oil and gas activity, rail franchising, energy efficiency, and advice.

    • Management of the Crown Estate in Scotland.

    • Control over Air Passenger Duty in Scotland.

    • Enhanced control over 8 social security benefits including Best Start Grant, Carer's Assistance, Cold Spell Heating Assistance, Disability Assistance, Discretionary Housing Payments, Employment Injury Assistance, Funeral Expenses Assistance, Winter Heating Assistance and the housing elements of Universal Credit and also the ability to top up reserved benefits.

    • Substantial control over income tax including Income Tax rates and bands on non-savings and non-dividend income.

The implications of the Scotland Act 2016

The Scotland Act 2016 put into place many of the recommendations of the Smith Commission, the latter having been established in the immediate aftermath of the clear ‘no’ vote in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. The Act made a number of significant changes

● Devolved institutions were granted new powers over taxation, being allowed to set the rates and thresholds for income tax as well as gaining control of 50% of VAT levies. ● These changes meant that, for the first time, the Scottish government was responsible for raising more than 50% of the money that it spends. ● The Scottish Parliament was given legislative power over a range of new areas — including road signs, speed limits and some welfare benefits. ● The Scottish government was given control over its electoral system, although a two-thirds supermajority in the Scottish Parliament was required for any changes to be made. Crucially, the Act also recognised the permanence of devolved institutions in Scotland and determined that a referendum would be required before either the Scottish Parliament or the Scottish government could be abolished