South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the £20m extra support for people affected by the bedroom tax outlined by Finance Secretary John Swinney in his Budget statement on Wednesday.  The move to mitigate the effects of the iniquitous tax comes as a UN Special Rapporteur called for the policy to be abolished. The SNP are the only party committed to scrapping the Bedroom Tax in an independent Scotland.

The budget also saw the announcement of a £190 million investment over two years to increase early learning and childcare provision to 600 hours – saving families £700.

Meanwhile efforts to boost economic growth and create jobs are continuing, with a massive £8 billion programme of investment in infrastructure. The budget will also see the Scottish Government invest £68 million in welfare mitigation in each of the next two years and over £1.3 billion in affordable housing over the four year period to 2015/16. 

Commenting, south of Scotland MSP Ms McAlpine said:

“I welcome this budget and believe it shows the Scottish Government’s determination to combat the worst effects of Westminster cuts. However it also shows what we could do with the powers of independence.

“The UK Government’s own figures show that 70,000 disabled Scots will lose money in the change from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payments. Another 100,000 will suffer hardship as a result of London’s bedroom tax.

“It is utterly wrong that the Westminster government can enforce these damaging and unpopular policies on Scotland despite the majority of Scottish MPs voting against them.

Ms McAlpine added:

“The Scottish Government’s attempts to mitigate against these cuts are only possible because of some very careful budgeting of the diminishing grant we receive from Westminster.

“If Scotland had the £60 billion worth of taxes we send to the treasury each year, we could create a much fairer welfare system, which helped the most needy and still made work pay.

“Recent polls indicate that over half of all Scots think these matters are safer in the hands of their own Scottish parliament – something that only a yes vote in next year’s referendum will ensure.”