The UK Government has offered to transfer the power to set the cap on Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) in Scotland, the Scotland Office Minister David Mundell announced today.
The announcement demonstrates the UK Government’s commitment to taking a pragmatic approach to devolution and to engaging intensely with local authorities in Scotland.
If the Scottish Government chooses to accept this offer, it will have the flexibility to pass on more funding from its existing block grant to local authorities. It is up to the Scottish Government and local authorities how they choose to allocate their money.
In a letter to the Deputy First Minister, Mr Mundell offered to transfer the power to the Scottish Government through a Section 63 Order which will require the agreement of the UK and Scottish Governments before being approved by both the UK and Scottish Parliaments.
DHPs can be used by local authorities across Great Britain to provide additional funding for people in receipt of housing benefit who need extra support. At present each local authority must operate within a formula-based spending cap set by the Department for Work and Pensions. The proposal from the UK Government would mean that the Scottish Government would have the power to set the DHP cap for Scottish local authorities in future.
Mr Mundell said:
I have completed a programme of visits to all Scottish local authorities and believe that transferring this power to the Scottish Government is the correct thing to do. The UK Government believes in taking a pragmatic approach to devolution and we believe in a United Kingdom that gives Scotland the best of both worlds. I hope that officials from both governments will now be able to take this forward.