Critical Social Policy 33(1) pp 114-139

This paper examines the impact of devolution on social welfare for older people and the associated administration of age equality. Analysis of policy discourse, rights and stakeholders’ views reveals divergent practice in the constituent nations of the UK. In normative terms this is shown to present a tension between universal welfare rights and entitlements – and regional differentiation. It is argued that this presents a dilemma in terms of territorial justice. Whilst, in distributive-welfare terms, variations between polities might be seen as unjust, they are founded on the autonomy of national minorities to determine local priorities and are shown to have fostered progressive practices that go beyond the prescriptions of the central state.