Powers over the Westminster cap that is stopping the Scottish Government from helping people with the ‘Bedroom Tax’ will be transferred to Scotland, it has been confirmed today.
In a letter to Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland Office Minister David Mundell stated that the UK Government would finally listen to the Scottish Government’s call to transfer the reserved powers needed to lift the cap on Discretionary Housing Payments.
The move will allow the cap to be lifted by the Scottish Government.
Housing help for people on benefits – known as Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) – is currently reserved to Westminster and administered by local authorities in Scotland. This power will now transfer to Scotland. It is important that the UK Government now acts to transfer these powers as soon as possible.
The Scottish Government has already spent up to the previous legal limit in order to mitigate the effects of the ‘Bedroom Tax’. Once the powers are transferred, a total of £50 million can be invested to help the 72,000 households in Scotland who are suffering from the effects.
Welcoming the news, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“We had already set aside the money to be able to help every household in Scotland affected by the ‘Bedroom Tax’ – once we have the powers, we will be able to use it and provide vital assistance to thousands of hard-pressed Scots.
“I am delighted that in future anyone who has been affected by this unfair policy will receive the help they need and would encourage them to contact their Local Authority to apply for assistance through the DHP scheme.
“We will never turn our back on people in need, and I am pleased to finally be able to get on and help people. But the fact is that this decision has taken far too long. We have been pressing since January for Iain Duncan Smith to remove this cap – and at last Westminster has seen sense and have given us what we requested. We will now work to ensure the law is changed as quickly as possible.
“The DHP scheme is the only legal way – under the powers that Scotland currently has – to provide regular financial payments to people on housing benefit. But the only way to get rid of the ‘Bedroom Tax’ for good is through the powers of an independent Scottish Parliament.
“We know that Scots want welfare decisions to be made and taken by the Scottish Parliament. The ‘Bedroom Tax’ has been rejected by people right across Scotland, yet is still being imposed on us by the UK Government.
“With independence we will have the opportunity to create a welfare system that really works for us.”