I DECIDED to do some more digging after Chris McEleny’s emphatic “No” (Scottish Government can scrap the two-child benefits cap – here’s how, Letters, July 23), without providing any evidence, in reply to my question regarding Labour assisting the SNP to mitigate the bedroom tax as I felt that there was also a lack of clarity on how to scrap the two-child benefit cap.

Examination of the timeline appears to contradict the popularly held belief that the Scottish Government defied or outflanked the UK Government to mitigate the spare bedroom tax.

The Tory-LibDem coalition had introduced the spare bedroom tax and Labour was led by Ed Miliband, who was no great ally of the SNP, in Westminster and Johann Lamont, who was averse to making political decisions in Holyrood.

Yet during the run-up to the referendum, the Labour Party helped the SNP pass the Scottish budget that led to full mitigation of the spare bedroom tax and the Tories initiated the transfer of power over the cap to Holyrood.

This made Westminster look cooperative, cost it nothing, committed the Scottish Government to raising the money and took it off the SNP’s manifesto.

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The budget debate on February 5, 2014, shows clearly that the Scottish Government had found funds to fully mitigate the spare bedroom tax when the Scottish Government obtained the necessary power.

The budget was compatible with the Scottish Government’s devolved powers so there was no possibility of legal action.

An approach on January 31, 2014, by Nicola Sturgeon, the deputy first minister, to Iain Duncan Smith, the secretary of state for work and pensions at the time, asking him to lift the cap was ignored.

With the referendum looming in September the letter on May 5, 2014, to the Westminster Scottish Affairs Committee from David Mundell, the under-secretary of state for Scotland, offering to break the stalemate might not have been entirely on his own initiative.

He had spoken to all Scottish local authorities, who are responsible for discretionary housing payments (DHPs), before initiating the parliamentary process that would effectively lift the cap.

Two days later, on May 7, 2014, Sturgeon announced in Holyrood that a letter had been received from Mundell offering to use Section 63 of the Scotland Act 1998 to transfer the power to set the statutory cap in Scotland to Scottish ministers using Section 63 of the Scotland Act 1998, to allow the Scottish Government to spend additional funds on DHPs in Scotland.

On November 10, 2014, statutory instruments laid before both parliaments transferred the powers over the limit on DHPs in Scotland from Westminster to the Scottish Government.

It was not until November 27, 2014, that the Smith Commission, set up by David Cameron in September published its recommendations.

As the infamous two-child cap on benefits from April 7, 2017, was announced by George Osborne back in 2015, the restrictions on mitigation to temporary situations in the Scotland Act 2016 were probably to prevent the Scottish Government from mitigating the effects of UK Government austerity in the future.

Considering the amount of debate that there has been over the two-children cap, it seems incredible that over the years nobody has been able to produce a detailed plan of action for the Scottish Government to remove that cap.

John Jamieson

South Queensferry