Developing constitutional principles through firefighting: social security parity in Northern Ireland

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The convention of parity of social security provision between Northern Ireland and Great Britain is explored as an example of how the uncodified UK constitution allows hasty, nominally temporary responses to chance events to gain decisive force in a particular field of governance or policy. As Northern Ireland’s politicians debate the future of parity to an unprecedented extent and Scotland looks to the development of a new post-referendum settlement of which, the Westminster parties have promised, greater devolved responsibility for “welfare” will play a part, discussion of the lessons of parity for those who would favour meaningful regional control of social security is timely. The author suggests that the key challenge is finding a settlement that affords economically weaker regions genuine policy autonomy without diminution of living standards.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-49
JournalJournal of Social Security Law
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2015



  • Social security
  • Devolution
  • Northern Ireland
  • Welfare reform

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