Thursday, 15 May 2014

More help to ease the pain caused by Bedroom Tax

Margaret Burgess MSP this week highlighted additional funding being made available by the SNP Scottish Government to mitigate the worst effects of the UK Government-imposed Bedroom Tax

Mrs Burgess is urging local tenants to apply for financial help from North Ayrshire Council, which will receive extra funding from the Scottish Government to make available more Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs).

The local MSP says constituents who have lost out on Housing Benefit because of the Bedroom Tax should now be able to seek compensation through a DHP.

The MSP for Cunninghame South explained that the SNP Government had persuaded the London-based Tory-Lib Dem Government to raise the cap on the funding that could be made available to cover the cost of Discretionary Housing Payments. Under the current constitutional settlement, Welfare and Benefits remain controlled by the UK Government.

Mrs Burgess said, “The UK Government will now transfer to the Scottish Government the power to lift the cap, meaning that the Scottish Government can invest a total of £50 million this year to help the 72,000 Scottish households who are suffering from the effects of the Bedroom Tax, including many local people.”

As the Scottish Government’s Minister for Housing, Margaret Burgess has been at the centre of work aimed at easing the pain suffered by tenants affected by the Bedroom Tax, which reduces much-needed Housing Benefit if a home is deemed to have more bedrooms than residents need. However, while welcoming the ability to increase help to those being hammered by the Westminster cuts, Mrs Burgess points out that the current limited powers of the devolved Scottish Parliament mean that it does not have the power to abolish the Bedroom Tax.

Margaret Burgess said, “The clear message to tenants is this: if you are being affected by the Bedroom Tax, help is available - but you need to apply for it. You must engage with your landlord and apply for a DHP as soon as possible to enable you to pay the shortfall in your rent, and you should do so even if you have been refused a DHP in the past.”

The SNP MSP noted, “Nothing better confirms the need for our Scottish Parliament to have the full powers of independence than the scandal of the Bedroom Tax. With full powers over welfare and taxation, the Scottish Government would abolish the Bedroom Tax.”

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