Bedroom tax warning
The Scottish Government has again warned the UK Government that their Housing Benefit reforms will remove over £54 million a year from the Scottish economy and put thousands of tenants at risk of increased rent arrears and even homelessness.
The Westminster Bill will reduce the amount of housing benefit support that can be given to tenants in the social rented sector by introducing new size criteria for working-age Housing Benefit claimants, who have extra bedrooms.
People who are judged to be “under occupying” their home by one bedroom will have their housing benefit slashed by 14 per cent. Where they are under occupying by two or more bedrooms the deduction is 25 per cent.
The new criteria for under occupation could mean that ill or disabled people, who use a spare bedroom for medical equipment, may all be affected.
The House of Lords has twice debated and sought to amend these provisions in the Bill. Their latest amendment would seek to exempt certain vulnerable groups from the deductions:
- disabled people who rely on local family and support networks
- disabled children who need care during the night and cannot share with a sibling
- war widows
- foster carers
Speaking ahead of today’s debate in the House of Commons, which will consider the latest changes proposed by the House of Lords, Housing Minister Keith Brown said:
“The Scottish Government is again calling for the UK Government to see sense and look again at the impacts of their proposed under occupancy measures.
“The UK Government’s proposals amount to a bedroom tax that will remove £54.4 million annually from the Scottish economy piling untold misery on the lowest income families.
“The House of Lords originally proposed a common-sense compromise, which the UK Government chose to ignore, instead choosing to invoke “financial privilege” - a move which was intended to prevent any further amendments of substance being made.
“To their credit the Lords have defied the UK Government and have instead offered a further compromise that seeks to protect some vulnerable tenants. I would urge the UK Government, at the very least, to make this relatively small concession towards protecting vulnerable tenants such as disabled adults and children, war widows and foster carers. They can do this by accepting the Lords’ amendment today.”