MSPs support further emergency coronavirus legislation
Additional £5 million announced for Discretionary Housing Payments.
The Scottish Parliament has unanimously supported new emergency measures to help people in Scotland get through the crisis caused by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.
The Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Bill, now passed by Parliament, gives powers to Scottish Ministers to temporarily intervene and manage care home services where there is a serious risk to the life, health or wellbeing of any person in that home for any reason connected with COVID-19.
The Bill also includes an additional £19.2 million investment in the Carer’s Allowance Supplement, the introduction of notice to leave periods for students in purpose-built student accommodation, and additional protections for those facing bankruptcy.
During the debate, Housing Minister Kevin Stewart has also confirmed an additional £5 million will be made available to local authorities through Discretionary Housing Payments, to support tenants who are now under severe financial pressures.
There are also legislative changes in areas including non-domestic rates relief, proceeds of crime and the wider operation of Scotland’s criminal justice system. The Bill also ensures that COVID-19 grant funding goes to those companies that pay their fair share of tax by excluding those who seek to minimise their tax arrangements to the detriment of the wider economy.
Constitution Secretary Michael Russell said:
“Scotland remains in an unprecedented situation. This legislation provides time-limited measures that will further strengthen our ability to prioritise work tackling the coronavirus pandemic, and support those in Scotland facing real hardship as a result.
“Whether it is taking action to safeguard the population’s health such as the measures relating to care homes, helping people in debt or students with accommodation costs, we will continue to do all we can to help Scotland get through this most testing of times.
“In a spirit of cooperation and consensus we have worked across parliament and with all parties as much as possible as we take these important steps to tackle the impact of this ongoing crisis.”
Announcing the additional money for Discretionary Housing Payments, Kevin Stewart said:
“We all know that the wider impacts of COVID-19 are increasing pressure on households and leading to greater financial hardship, including paying rent. Many more people will now be on benefits for the first time and be subject to the UK Government’s benefit cap while others will have seen their household income decrease substantially and may be struggling to pay their rent.
“We have been looking closely at how to support people during the crisis and I am pleased to announce that we are increasing the amount we have made available for other Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) – those that are available outside of our full mitigation of the bedroom tax – by a further £5 million to almost £16 million. This will support tenants who are now under severe financial pressures and where the UK welfare state is not providing the safety net it should.”
The Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Bill and supporting documents can be read on the Scottish Parliament website.