Scrap bedroom tax or give Scotland its fair share – McLeod
Despite both Scotland and London having the same number of households hit by the bedroom tax, UK Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud is set to award London with £56.5 million of DHP compared to only £10 million in Scotland.
Dr McLeod commented:
“The bedroom tax is a socially divisive measure that will increase social inequalities across Scotland. It’s a policy that the Scottish Government is totally against as it hits our most vulnerable citizens in these already challenging economic conditions.
“This is a policy devised in London on the basis of housing benefit increases and overcrowding. However, in inflation-adjusted terms, 93 per cent of the housing benefit increase is attributable to the situation in England whilst London has almost two and a half times the level of overcrowded households compared to Scotland.
“We have consistently made that case to UK Government Ministers if they proceed to impose their plans, as they are doing, then Scotland must get its fair share of funds to deal with both the human and financial impact.
“The small levels of Discretionary Housing Payment in Scotland are unfair and woefully inadequate to deal with the impact and scale of this policy.
“It is indefensible that, though London and Scotland have the same number of households affected by this policy, London is to get more than five times the money to help alleviate its impact. Frankly that just adds insult to injury.
“The UK Government’s agenda is completely at odds with the values of the people of Scotland and the aspirations that the Scottish Government has for our nation. Only through independence can Scotland have the levers required to create a welfare system that is aligned to Scottish needs and values.”
The Scottish Government has undertaken a range of actions to mitigate the impact of UK Government welfare reform measures. These include:
Council Tax Benefit:
Acted swiftly with local government partners to commit a total of £40 million in 2013/14 to ensure that around 560,000 people in Scotland currently receiving Council Tax Benefit are protected from the UK Government’s 10% cut in funding.
Scottish Welfare Fund:
Providing an extra £9.2 million for the Scottish Welfare Fund, giving a total of £33 million, and allowing us to award an additional 5,600 Community Care Grants, and an additional 100,000 Crisis Grants for those groups who need it most.
Providing an extra £2.5 million to social landlords to ensure that there is advice on hand for people who will be affected by changes to housing benefit including the under occupancy measures.
Third Sector and Advice Services:
Providing a funding package of £5.4 million for frontline advice and support services as they help people affected by the reforms.
Providing £230,000 to fund three LA-led Universal Credit (UC) pilots in Scotland. These are taking place in South Lanarkshire, Dundee and Aberdeenshire.