GORDON Brown’s commitment to devolution is being questioned after he claimed that Scotland’s separate social security agency was a “waste of money” despite lifting thousands of children out of poverty.

In an interview with The Scotsman, Brown took issue with the Scottish Government setting up Social Security Scotland in order to deliver additional benefits than provided by the UK Government.

The former prime minister claimed that instead of Scotland setting up its own agency, it should have relied upon UK’s Department for Work and Pensions.

“Whatever benefits the Scottish Government decide, can be paid through the Department for Work and Pensions," he said. 

“So why did the Scottish Government spend £700 million in resources setting up a separate social security agency, when if you wanted a child poverty payment, it could be through the Department for Work and Pensions? I’ve never heard a satisfactory answer to that question.

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“And I think it’s the intransigence of the DWP and I think it’s the intransigence of the Scottish Government. You’ve got ultra-nationalism on the one hand and almost nihilism on the other hand.

"And so you end up with £700 million that’s probably about £2000 per family in poverty, that could have been used to solve the problem of poverty, but we’ve set up two separate, expensive bureaucracies to administer payments for families. Now surely we can do things better than that.

"And the waste of money, simply because the Scottish Government wanted a separate agency for status reasons, rather than for the delivery of benefits.”

First Minister Humza Yousaf hit back at Brown on X/Twitter, highlighting the benefits the agency has had for people in Scotland.

He said: “Social Security Scotland delivers 13 devolved benefits, 7 of which are only available in Scotland.

“A system with dignity, fairness & respect at its heart. Crucially, through our actions it is estimated we will lift 90,000 children out of poverty.

“That's not a waste of money.”

Others have questioned the consistency of Brown’s statement with the apparent pro-devolution stance of his dark money think tank Our Scottish Future.

SNP MP David Linden said: “It is absolutely astounding to hear Gordon Brown siding with the Tories by attacking Scotland’s social security system – which is based on fairness, dignity and respect – and standing in the way of more powers to tackle poverty coming to Scotland.

“The SNP has fought long and hard to see additional tax and social security powers devolved to our Parliament, and we’ve used the limited powers we do have alongside our fixed budget, to make Scotland fairer – including through the delivery of 13 new benefits including the game-changing Scottish Child Payment, which is unique in the UK and we have increased to £25 per week per child.

“However, for as long as the key powers to tackle the cost of living remain at Westminster, and we are forced to spend hundreds of millions of pounds mitigating Tory welfare cuts and fighting Labour’s refusal to scrap the brutal two-child cap, in Scotland, we will be tackling poverty with one hand tied behind our back."

It comes after deputy leader Angela Rayner ruled out devolving employment law to Scotland despite calls within her own party to do so.