Scottish government today

The Scottish Parliament Building
The Scottish Parliament Building

Scotland has devolved powers within the UK system of government. These are set out in the Scotland Act (1998). Scotland is not an independent country in the sense that the Scottish Parliament can't make decision in all areas affecting the lives of the people of Scotland. However, the Scottish Parliament does have the power to make decisions in many important areas of peoples' lives.

How the Scottish government works within the UK government

Devolved and reserved powers

The areas over which the Scottish Parliament has decision-making powers are called devolved powers and include:

Scotland Act (1998) existing devolved powersReserved powers
HealthConstitutional matters
Education and trainingUK defence and national security
Local governmentUK foreign policy
Law, including most aspects of criminal and civil law, the prosecution system and the courtsImmigration and nationality
Social workUK economic and monetary policy
HousingEnergy: electricity, coal, gas and nuclear power
Tourism and economic developmentEmployment legislation
Some control over top-up benefitsUK wide social security: universal credit, tax credits and child benefit
Responsibility for a portion of Scotland's income tax, VAT receipts and land taxesSocial security (the DWP – Department for Work and Pensions)
Power to borrow up to £5bnSome aspects of transport, including railways, safety and regulation
Some aspects of transport, including the Scottish road network, bus policy, and ports and harboursRegulation of certain professions such as medicine and dentistry
Planning and the environmentOthers, such as data protection, broadcasting, gambling and the National Lottery
Agriculture, forestry and fishing
Sport and the arts
Miscellaneous matters, such as compiling statistics and keeping public records