Friday, 14 March 2014

Labour opposed Council Tax help

Local MSP Margaret Burgess has slammed Labour MSPs for voting against the SNP Government’s Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

Mrs Burgess said the actions of the Labour MSPs could have meant thousands of local people lost-out on the benefit that helps some of the poorest people in North Ayrshire.

After the UK Tory-Lib Dem Government announced a welfare change that meant people on basic benefits – as little as £71.00 a week - would have to pay something towards their Council Tax bill, the SNP Scottish Government introduced the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, which replaced the Council Tax benefit scrapped by Westminster. The SNP’s actions meant the poorest members of society were not made even worse-off. As of September 2013, thousands of North Ayrshire residents were receiving Council Tax reductions, including 6,890 people aged 65 years or over, 9,230 single-female households and 2,990 lone parents.

However, at last week’s meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee, Labour MSPs did not support the regulations necessary to implement the Council Tax Reduction Scheme for another year. The committee has a majority of SNP members, so Labour MSPs were unsuccessful in their attempt to derail help for some of the poorest people in the country.

Margaret Burgess said, “Thankfully, my SNP colleagues backed the Scottish Government’s efforts to work with North Ayrshire Council and other local authorities to support some of the poorest households with their Council Tax bills.

“This is not the first time Labour MSPs have voted against help for people who would otherwise be hit by UK cuts to funding for Council Tax benefit – they did so at the same committee last December.”

Mrs Burgess, MSP for Cunninghame South, noted, “The funding to support thousands of North Ayrshire people is part of a partnership between the Scottish Government and local authorities across Scotland. Of course, the support is only necessary because of UK cuts that are hitting our most vulnerable people hardest.

“A ‘YES’ vote in September will ensure that the Scottish Parliament no longer has to mop up the mess created by bad UK Government policies.”

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