Banish the Bedroom Tax Monster!

Banish the Bedroom Tax MonsterLast week, I added my support to Shelter Scotland’s campaign against the coalition government bedroom tax.

Their campaign, ‘Banish the Bedroom Tax Monster‘ highlights that 82,500 households in Scotland have been caught out by the policy that lurks like a monster in their homes.

In support of the campaign, Shelter have established a six point plan calling for action from the UK, Scottish and Local Government.  The action plan calls for:

  • Homeless people in temporary accommodation should be exempt from the bedroom tax
  • Discretionary Housing Payments should be easier to access and should help more people
  • Tenants with rent arrears should not be blocked from downsizing into more affordable properties
  • Build more social housing to cut the benefit bill for the long term.
  • Everyone affected by benefit changes like the bedroom tax and the upcoming Universal Credit can access free, independent advice and advocacy
  • Tenants who can afford to must pay their rents to ensure social landlords can maintain standards and build new homes

I believe the calls being made by Shelter tie in well with the action being proposed by Scottish Labour through a Members Bill.

Last week the Scottish Government budget provided some new money to tackle the Bedroom Tax with the Finance Secretary providing an additional £20m this year.  However, I want to see the Scottish Government do more – the gap created by the Bedroom Tax is £50m this year and there has been no new funding from the Scottish Government for future years.   That means local authorities and housing associations are held back in their efforts to help their tenants.

‪When questioned about this during the budget debate, the Finance Secretary said he did not want to let the UK Government off the hook in 2014-15.  I am concerned by the message that this sends out.   It is not acceptable simply to use the Bedroom Tax as a stick to beat the coalition with – Scottish Ministers must continue to lobby against the tax while also taking steps necessary to protect people affected in Scotland.