The Scottish Affairs Committee takes evidence from David Mundell MP on the bedroom tax.
David Mundell MP told the Committee that the Scottish Government does not need further powers or permissions to use money available in its budget to mitigate the effects of the bedroom tax in Scotland.
Until now there had been a question mark over whether the UK Government or the devolution settlement would allow the Scottish Government to do this. However, the minister made clear in his evidence that those powers have existed and could have been used at any time in the three years since welfare reforms were introduced, but that the Scottish Government had never before last week put any formal proposals to the UK Government to do so.
Ian Davidson MP, Chair of the Committee, said;
“This evidence confirms that the existing devolution settlement would have allowed the Scottish Government, despite what they have repeatedly tried to suggest, to deal with the bedroom tax at any time they saw fit. They do not need any new powers, and this is not related to the Referendum. They have also now conceded that they have the money to offset the costs of the bedroom tax, and this evidence shows that there are several legal mechanisms within their existing powers that they could have used to do this.
“The Scottish Government has made a show of their Separation referendum pledge to abolish the bedroom tax. This is a burden that has been placed on the shoulders of those least able to bear it but it is now clear that they never needed to allow it to be imposed on the people of Scotland at all. It has now been confirmed that the Scottish Government always had the financial and legal powers to mitigate the bedroom tax in its entirety but have chosen not to do so. Instead they have chosen to play politics in an effort to make a point about independence, and the price has been paid by those put through great financial and emotional distress.”