Scottish National Party attempts to scrap the bedroom tax north of the border
Emily Dugan is Social Affais Editor for The Independent, i and Independent on Sunday. She was previously a news reporter for The Independent on Sunday. Her investigations into human trafficking have twice been awarded Best Investigative Article at the Anti-Slavery Day Media Awards and her human rights journalism was shortlisted for the Gaby Rado Memorial prize at the 2012 Amnesty Media Awards. Emily is on sabbatical until March 2015
Social Affairs Correspondent
Monday 03 February 2014
People in Scotland may end up avoiding the so-called bedroom tax altogether under proposals by the devolved government.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has written to the UK Government’s Welfare Minister, Lord Freud, asking that legal restrictions on payments to those on housing benefits be lifted, so they can negate the impact of the controversial policy.
The Scottish National Party wants to be able to spend another £15 million in discretionary payments to housing benefit claimants, so they are not having their income docked for having a ‘spare’ room.
Discretionary spending to those struggling on housing benefits is currently fixed at 150 per cent of the local housing funds. Sturgeon wants this cap lifted altogether.
The Bedroom Tax was imposed on Scotland despite more than 90 per cent of Scottish MPs voting against it in the House of Commons. The policy means claimants lose 14 per cent of their housing benefit if a spare room is deemed unoccupied, resulting in benefit reductions of between £14 and £25 a week.
Sturgeon said: “The bedroom tax penalises some of the most vulnerable people in our society. We know that more than 12,000 children are affected and 80 per cent of households hit contain an adult with a recognised disability.
“We have already provided as much help as legally possible to those suffering from this unjust policy but we are unfairly restricted in what we can do.
“For example, despite Scotland having 20,000 more households affected by the bedroom tax than London, the DHP allocation for Scotland in 2014-15 is £35 million less than London.
“The Scottish Government are currently spending up to the legal limit in order to mitigate the effects of the bedroom tax on people across Scotland.
“We are more than willing to put in the extra £15 million, which would increase the amount of help available to a total of £50 million.
“If Westminster lifts the legal cap – which they can easily do – we will be able to help the 76,000 people in Scotland who are suffering from this cut.
“In order to make this legally possible, Westminster needs to lift the cap for Scotland and UK ministers should act now.”
The Department for Work and Pensions says that it only received bids from 11 out of the 32 Scottish local authorities for extra funding from the £20 million pot the UK Government set aside to support to local authorities. It argues there is still £15 million in this fund unallocated.
A DWP spokeswoman said: “The Scottish Government's call for the current 150 per cent cap on discretionary housing payment top-ups to be increased doesn't fit with our experience of how the payments are currently working in Scotland. The UK Government set aside £20m of additional DHP funding support which local authorities could apply for through a bidding scheme. After operating for four months the scheme closes today and so far only 11 Scottish authorities have made a bid for additional funding.”
- 1 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 4 Tennis fan suing Australian Open organisers for 'failing to shade spectators' during Murray match
- 5 Syrian refugee child beaten by Istanbul Burger King manager for eating customer’s leftover food
Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Rob Lowe hits out at White House decision not to meet Israeli leader
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign
Winston Churchill: From accusations of anti-Semitism to the blunt refusal that led to the deaths of millions
British Muslim leaders outraged after Eric Pickles says followers of Islam should 'prove their identity'
UK terror fears: My jihadist son returned from Syria mentally scarred – now he is being ignored
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
Billy Crystal: 'Stop shoving gay sex scenes in my face'
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...
Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...
£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...