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Making welfare work for Wales: Should benefits for people of working age be devolved?

June 29th 2016

Social security payments totalling approximately £10 billion are distributed in Wales every year. The terms, conditions and value of these benefits are, in the main, set by the UK Government. But does this lead to the best fit for Wales? Or would some benefits be improved if they were devolved?

This paper explores the potential for devolving working age benefits in Wales. It specifically looks at unemployment benefits and services, disability and sickness benefits, and Housing Benefit. It considers how well they are working for claimants in Wales now, and how social security interacts with devolved policy areas.

The paper includes the following recommendations: Final Report cover


  • In the short to medium term, administrative decisions about support with housing costs (e.g. frequency, recipient of payments) should be devolved;
  • decisions about eligible rents (e.g. under-occupancy) should be devolved;
  • help with housing costs for 18-24 year olds should be devolved in full.
  • In the longer term, the potential to devolve the full housing benefit budget should be explored, along with the ability to make additional benefit payments to claimants.

Job Seekers

  • the new Work and Health programme should be co-commissioned by the Welsh Government and Department for Work and Pensions, with a view to complete devolution by 2021;
  • responsibility for job seekers’ benefits and services for unemployed young people aged 16-24 should be devolved in full;
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance should continue to be reserved to the UK Government because of the cyclical element.

Disability benefits:

  • Personal Independence Payment and Carer’s Allowance should remain reserved in the short- to medium term.

You can download the executive summary in English neu yn Gymraeg, and the full report is available below.

The project was kindly supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. To find out more about the project and see the other outputs from it, check out the project page 



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