Katy Clark MP has condemned the Bedroom Tax and the impact it is having on some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in Scotland.
The Bedroom Tax, described by the UK Tory-Lib Dem Government as ‘ending the spare room subsidy’, sees Housing Benefit docked if a person is deemed to have more bedrooms in their house than they ‘need’. One ‘additional’ bedroom results in a 14% cut, while two ‘extra’ rooms sees benefit slashed by 25%.
Ms Clark spoke-out after she had used Question Time in the House of Commons to challenge the Tory Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions on the impact of the Bedroom Tax.
In response, the Minister, Esther McVey MP, said, “All the Government’s Housing Benefit changes have been subject to full impact and equality impact assessments. We have closely monitored the implementation of the measures and commissioned independent evaluations of the local housing allowance reforms and the removal of the spare room subsidy.”
However, in a follow-up, Katy Clark said, “Alex Salmond is coming down from Edinburgh to ask the Prime Minister to scrap the Bedroom Tax, and the Scottish Labour Party is putting a Bill before the Scottish Parliament to stop evictions and provide funding to councils and housing associations for discretionary housing payments. Does the Minister accept that in the meantime, councils and housing associations are under huge pressure to raise rents because of the massive rent arrears resulting from the introduction of the Bedroom Tax?”
The Tory Minister replied that the UK Government was “looking after everybody and supporting them as best we can with discretionary housing payments.”
Speaking after the exchange in the House of Commons, Katy Clark told the3towns, “As time goes on the disastrous impact the Bedroom Tax is having on Scottish communities becomes more and more apparent. Research from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities has shown there has been a fourfold increase in the number of households applying for a discretionary housing payment and many are being forced into rent arrears. In North Ayrshire 71-percent of households hit by the Bedroom Tax are being forced into rent arrears.”
The Labour MP for North Ayrshire & Arran added, “As local authorities and housing associations see their budgets squeezed by this tax, many could be forced into raising rents which will hit all Council Tax tenants. Groups, such as pensioners, who the Government claimed wouldn’t be hit by this appalling policy, could now end up worse off too.”