I READ John Jamieson’s letter about the two-child benefit cap (Jul 21) and thought it was important to respond to two points he made.

Firstly he said: “Was it not the case that the SNP and Labour persuaded the Westminster parliament to devolve power over the bedroom tax to Holyrood in 2014 so that it could pass the legislation needed before the Scottish Government could provide councils with the funds to mitigate the tax?”

The simple answer is, no. It was most likely the case that the Scottish Parliament did not have the powers to mitigate welfare cuts as the devolution of the relevant powers did not happen until after the independence referendum on the back of recommendations made by the Smith Commission. Westminster could probably have taken Alex Salmond’s Scottish Government to court but they chose not to because it would have been absurd to challenge the Scottish Government to overturn their actions because the bedroom tax was opposed by the overwhelming majority of Scots.

Mr Jamieson also said: “It would be helpful to the public if, when suggestions are made by these very experienced politicians, they could explain how the Scottish Government or Scottish Parliament can put them into effect.”

Alex Salmond has already done this, and if Humza Yousaf listened to his advice then by the end of next month the two-child cap would be scrapped in Scotland. The Scottish Government already provinces funding through discretionary housing payments – that is how Alex Salmond outfoxed Westminster and funded the scrapping of the unacceptable hardship of Westminster’s bedroom tax.

If the Scottish Government added a further £85 million in funding this would mean that, if you are affected by the two-child benefit cap, just likes those that were affected by the bedroom tax, you could simply apply to your local authority for a discretionary housing payment and you should get one.

Or if they wanted to they could add it as a council tax credit. This how my old council implemented the Alba Party’s £500 payment to 10,000 households in receipt of council tax reduction back in 2021. This also outfoxes any attempts by the DWP to try to make the payments interfere with any other legacy benefits or Universal Credit entitlement.

£85m might sound expensive because it’s a big number but it amounts to 0.17% of the entire Scottish Government budget. In fact, this year the Scottish Government will carry forward £244m in full through the Scotland Reserve if confirmed at final outturn. It is made up of £180.6m fiscal resource, £24.7m capital and £39m of finance transactions.

So the money exists to fund the policy right now without having to make a single cut elsewhere and of course that’s the whole point of the Scottish Parliament – to make different decisions than those made by Westminster. It will also re-emphasise the narrative that there simply is no point of voting Labour or Tory at the General election.

With independence we will have the full control of all of our nation’s resources and our Scots Parliament won’t need to be a sticking plaster for Labour or Tory austerity imposed from Westminster as we could make our own decisions set on our own priorities.

But until then, we have the power, the resources and the ability to lift 15,000 Scottish children out of poverty right now and around another 75,000 would be drove further away from poverty. We should, and we must, do this and for heaven’s sake do it now and don’t wait to see if a Labour government will do it for us.

If Alex Salmond had waited in 2014 for a Labour government and hoped that it would’ve then scrapped the Bedroom Tax, people across Scotland would still be paying it today.
Chris McEleny
General Secretary, Alba Party