Calum Crichton is a Finance graduate from the University of Strathclyde. Calum won the 2012 University of Strathclyde's Journal of Economic Studies Prize and recently received Glasgow City Council's 2013 International Finance Services District Award. He lives in Glasgow and is a Youth Rep for Better Together.
This week the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) published its report analysing the UK benefits system in the context of the Scottish independence referendum, where it considered both the current welfare expenditure in Scotland and the UK, as well as the options available to a hypothetical independent Scottish government. Welfare is a highly important issue for any government and will be a key feature in the debate about Scotland's constitutional future, so the more detail on how welfare would work for Scotland post-referendum the better.
The SNP have so far jumped on a key conclusion from the report, specifically that an independent Scotland could reassess the UK government's welfare policies, parts of which make "little economic sense." This makes attractive newspaper headlines for SNP ministers, but as usual with this type of thing the devil is in the detail.
What we know so far of how welfare would work in an independent Scotland is that, according to a report commissioned by the SNP government, it would need to stick with the UK's welfare system for a few years. A transitional period, if you like, until Scotland developed the infrastructure needed to administer and deliver its own separate welfare system. This is problematic enough for the SNP because it creates a mass amount of uncertainty over Scotland's future welfare system, something they have been trying to avoid. It also indicates that there would be no quick reversal of unpopular UK welfare policies, which would still be implemented in Scotland for up to two Westminster administrations even if the referendum goes the SNP's way.