The no detriment principle in operation

The Smith Commission proposed that neither administration should be better or worse off as a result of devolution, and argued for compensation if the effect of decisions were to push costs onto the other party.  A House of Lords Committee has described this as a ‘recipe for continuing conflict’, and they may well be right.  A small report from the Auditor General remarks on a small element in the costs of transferring responsibility from HMRC to Revenue Scotland.

HMRC has charged the Scottish Government £0.73 million for it to stop collecting Stamp Duty Land Tax.  HMRC charges the Scottish Government for costs associated with the devolution of Stamp Duty Land Tax. … It estimates this will cost £1 million, most of which is for changes to IT systems.  For the period up to the end of 2014/15, HMRC has invoiced the Scottish Government for £0.73 million.

So HMRC has charged the Scottish Government for the costs of not doing anything. This is an ominous precedent for the transfer of responsibility for benefits; if the DWP bills the Scottish Government for not doing disability benefits any more, it’s going to be an expensive business.

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