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Bedroom tax 'disproportionately hitting most vulnerable citizens'

THE bedroom tax and ­benefit sanctions are disproportionately affecting ­Scotland's most vulnerable citizens, Housing and Welfare Minister Margaret Burgess has said.

Mrs Burgess has requested an urgent meeting with the UK Government Minister for Welfare Reform, Lord Freud, to discuss her concerns around the impacts of benefit sanctions and bedroom tax, which she said were "unnecessarily harsh" on vulnerable people.

In a letter to the UK Government, Mrs Burgess said: "When it comes to the bedroom tax, it's clear that the policy is costing more than it is saving in Scotland.

"The apparent savings to the Department for Work and Pensions are simply because the costs are being pushed on to other stakeholders.

"There was no justification in introducing the bedroom tax to reduce housing benefit expenditure in the Scottish social rented sector, ­especially when you see the ­financial and social costs borne by some of our most vulnerable households.

"It's also clear to see there is no legitimate economic and social case for its imposition.

"Local authorities, ­Citizens Advice Bureaux and other advisory groups have all reported an increase in callers who have seen their benefits reduced or withdrawn.

"Foodbanks in Scotland have named benefit delays and changes, including sanctions, as major factors in the increasing demand for their services."

Mrs Burgess pointed to the latest estimate from council umbrella body Cosla, which found the annual costs of implementing the penalty exceed the savings by £10 million.

The Scottish Government announced in October that an extra £20m would be ­allocated to local authorities in 2014/2015 to help households struggling with the bedroom tax.

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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