The devolution of new powers over the housing costs elements of universal credit raises questions not just for Scotland but for the whole of the UK.
The report of the Smith Commission published this morning only proposes two major changes to the existing arrangements for universal credit:
- The Scottish Government will be given the administrative power to change the frequency of UC payments, vary the existing plans for single household payments, and pay landlords direct for housing costs in Scotland
- The Scottish Parliament will have the power to vary the housing cost elements of UC, including varying the under-occupancy charge and local housing allowance rates, eligible rent, and deductions for non-dependents.
All other elements of universal credit, including the earnings taper, conditionality and sanctions will remain reserved to Westminster. Some other benefits outside universal credit, including discretionary housing payments, will be devolved. National media coverage was dominated by the proposals on income tax but other taxes that affect housing, including capital gains tax and VAT, will be reserved.
-> Read the rest of this post on Inside Edge, my blog for Inside Housing