Scottish Government given power to 'end bedroom tax'
Cap on discretionary payments to people affected to be lifted
Saturday 03 May 2014
Scotland is being given more powers to mitigate the “bedroom tax” in a move expected to gain ground for the UK Government ahead of the vote on Scottish independence.
The Scottish Government will be able to set its own cap on discretionary payments to people affected by the spare room subsidy.
Although Scotland will not be given any funding for the change, it means the bedroom tax could effectively be ended by allowing councils to replace the housing benefit taken from families deemed to have spare rooms.
Alex Salmond’s Scottish National Party (SNP) had pledged to abolish the bedroom tax within a year of independence if it is achieved by the referendum later this year.
The policy was one of the party’s key manifesto pledges for an independent Scotland and had been used as an example of Westminster imposing unpopular policies on the country.
A Bedroom Tax protest outside the SNP Autumn Conference in October 2013. David Mundell, the Conservative minister for the Scotland Office, sent a letter to the Deputy First Minister offering to transfer powers in an agreement approved by both parliaments.
He said: “I have completed a programme of visits to all Scottish local authorities and believe that transferring this power to the Scottish Government is the correct thing to do.
“The UK Government believes in taking a pragmatic approach to devolution and we believe in a United Kingdom that gives Scotland the best of both worlds.”
The Scottish Government had already spent up to the limit set by Westminster to mitigate the effects of the policy, dubbed a “bedroom tax” by critics.
Once the powers are transferred, £50 million can be invested to help the estimated 72,000 households under the cap.
Alex Salmond and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon present the White Paper for Scottish independence in November 2013 in Glasgow Scotland’s Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, welcomed the move but said it had taken too long to change the “unfair” policy.
“We will never turn our back on people in need, and I am pleased to finally be able to get on and help people,” she added.
“The only way to get rid of the ‘bedroom tax’ for good is through the powers of an independent Scottish Parliament.”
Housing charities and homelessness groups have also praised the change.
Mary Taylor, chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), said: “We are pleased to see that Holyrood will now effectively have power to ease the worry of the ‘bedroom tax’ for social housing tenants in Scotland.
“We still wish to see the ‘bedroom tax’ repealed by the UK Government, so that tenants in other parts of the UK can be relieved of this iniquitous burden.”
The subsidy came into effect in April 2013 as part of a raft of welfare reforms under Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.
The Government claimed it would make social housing fairer by encouraging tenants to downsize if they did not need larger properties, freeing up space.
Anyone deemed to have spare rooms faced losing a percentage of housing benefit and could apply for a discretionary housing payment to make up the shortfall.
Foster carers and families with children in the armed forces are among those exempt from the changes but critics argue it does not properly take account of people’s needs and leads to debt and evictions.
- 1 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 2 Watch: Man takes selfie every mile of 2,600 mile hike, creates amazing timelapse video
- 3 The day I starred in Only Fools and Horses
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
#FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
Andreas Lubitz: Knee-jerk reaction to 9/11 enabled mass murder
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...