Part 4: Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs)
The Committee invites the Scottish Government to reflect on the evidence received about discretionary housing payments.
104. The Scottish Government acknowledges that concerns have been raised in regards to the Bill, as drafted, not containing a duty which compels a Local Authority ( LA) to operate a Discretionary Housing Payments ( DHP) scheme, but notes that continued operation of DHP schemes by LAs has been successfully achieved on the basis of agreement and consent.
105. Therefore the Scottish Government will reflect carefully on the evidence submitted to the Committee, as well as the feedback received directly from stakeholders about DHPs and will consider whether this section of the Bill could be clarified further ahead of Stage 2.
106. The Scottish Government has considered the comments from the DPLRC, and is not minded to make changes to the process for statutory guidance. In this, it notes that neither the Scottish Government's guidance for the operation of the Scottish Welfare Fund nor the existing guidance for DHPs published by the DWP are subject to parliamentary procedure and the it remains of the view that it is better to have them in guidance.
107. It is the Scottish Government's view that a requirement for consultation with bodies representing LAs is proportionate. Such a requirement does not preclude more substantial consultation, however, where major changes are proposed. The Scottish Government will also consider what role, if any, the independent scrutiny body could have in relation to the guidance.
108. The Scottish Government acknowledges that matters to be discussed in guidance may be regulated for in relation to other parts of the Bill, but notes that DHPs are a discretionary scheme. The benefits and forms of assistance considered elsewhere in the Bill are entitlement based, and so a different level of parliamentary and legislative handling is appropriate.