• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Bedroom Tax under fresh fire amid claims of £42m in savings

SCOTTISH taxpayers have saved £42 million thanks to the introduction of the so-called Bedroom Tax, according to the UK government.

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: Said the policy was 'absolutely necessary'.
IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: Said the policy was 'absolutely necessary'.

However, the claim yesterday resulted in fresh pledges from the SNP and Labour in Scotland to axe the controversial policy.

First Minister Alex Salmond said an SNP-led independent ­Scotland would reverse the "cruel and regressive" benefit cut, which he claimed was implemented undemocratically in Scotland.

Meanwhile, Labour's Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran restated her party's pledge to abolish the bedroom tax across the UK if Ed Miliband becomes Prime Minister after next year's general election.

Both condemned the decision to cut housing benefit for tenants deemed to have surplus rooms after the UK Government issued new figures marking the anniversary of the policy's introduction.

According to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) statistics, the cuts have saved Scottish taxpayers £42m.

The DWP said 72,000 people are receiving reduced housing benefit under rules which cut payments by between 14% and 25%.

However, the new figures also revealed that 25,000 people are still living in overcrowded accommodation in Scotland.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, said: "It was absolutely necessary that we fixed the broken system which just a year ago allowed the taxpayer to cover the £1m daily cost of spare rooms in social housing.

"We have taken action to help the hundreds of thousands of people living in cramped, overcrowded accommodation and to control the spiralling housing benefit bill, as part of the Government's long-term economic plan."

Earlier this year the SNP Government agreed to make £55m available to councils over two years to help tenants struggling to pay their rent as a result of the bedroom tax. However, ministers have been accused of failing to offset the impact of the policy completely.

Repeating his pledge to end the bedroom tax if Scots vote Yes, Mr Salmond said: "This iniquitous tax affects tens of thousands of households across Scotland, more than 80% of which have an adult with a disability. It is a cruel, regressive policy which the Scottish Government will scrap as soon as it has the powers to do so."

He likened it to the Poll Tax, introduced 25 years ago today, insisting it was as unpopular.

He added: "As with the Bedroom Tax, the Poll Tax was inflicted on a Scottish electorate that had already rejected the Tories at successive elections - and would go on to do so again.

"That was the democratic deficit at the heart of the home rule campaign that brought us our devolved parliament at Holyrood.

"But only the powers of an ­independent parliament will allow us here in Scotland to scrap the Bedroom Tax once and for all."

Ms Curran said: "The Bedroom Tax has caused significant harm to some of the most vulnerable Scots and there are now millions of pounds of debt accruing as a result of people being unable to pay their rent.

"No coalition government statistics can reflect the distress it has caused, or that the system doesn't work because there aren't enough smaller homes people can move to.

"Labour will abolish the bedroom tax across the UK, but Scots could be lifted out of it completely today if the SNP backed Labour's proposals. The money is there, it's time for the SNP to act in the interests of Scotland's most vulnerable."

Defending the bedroom tax, Scottish Conservative welfare reform spokesman Alex Johnstone said: "This is a much-needed bonus for the taxpayer. But because of politically inspired opposition to this measure from both the SNP and Labour, we're not seeing the full benefits.

"If they actually embraced the policy we would see more large accommodation opening up allowing families to escape over-crowded homes."

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

223311