NICOLA Sturgeon will today set out the SNP's plans for scrapping the so-called bedroom tax in an independent Scotland.

After a series of hints in recent weeks, the Deputy First Minister will confirm that ending the Coalition's controversial housing benefit cut is to become party policy.

A promise to end the tax will be included in the SNP's manifesto for the 2016 Holyrood election if the country votes Yes next year.

Reversing the tax will also mean picking apart the new Universal Credit, due to be rolled out this autumn, which will bundle together a series of working-age benefits.

At the moment, benefits are wholly reserved to Westminster.

The SNP pledge goes further than Labour's statements on the tax. Although Labour opposes the measure, it has no plans to scrap it.

The bedroom tax comes into effect on April 1 and is expected to affect about 105,000 working-age tenants in Scotland who live in social housing.

It is intended to save about £500 million across the UK each year, about £53m in Scotland.

Those deemed to have one "spare" bedroom will lose 14% of their housing benefit, while those with two or more will lose 25%.

People who cannot afford to pay the difference – an average of £50 to £90 a month – are being advised to move to smaller homes or take in a lodger.

However, there are not enough one-bedroom properties available from councils and social landlords for all those affected, meaning some people may be forced into the private sector, where their housing benefit costs could be even higher.

In her speech to the SNP conference in Inverness tomorrow, Sturgeon will say the bedroom tax is a callous and indiscriminate policy that will force vulnerable people out of their homes.

She will say: "It is one of the worst policies introduced in Scotland since the poll tax and I ask you to join me in telling the UK Government in no uncertain terms that we want it withdrawn.

"Of course, the Tories won't withdraw it. And, shamefully, despite all their rhetoric, neither will Labour.

"Well, let me promise you this: in an independent Scotland – if we are the government – we will take housing benefit out of Universal Credit and restore it as a benefit that is paid direct to social landlords. And let me be crystal clear, an SNP government in an independent Scotland will scrap the bedroom tax."

Ending the tax would mean unravelling the complex new Universal Credit system, which is due to merge housing benefit with unemployment benefits, child tax credits, working tax credits and crisis loans into a lump sum for each claimant. It is due to be phased in by 2017.

Under Sturgeon's plan, housing benefit would be separated out from Universal Credit in order to restore the status quo. In a further change, the housing benefit would also be paid directly to landlords.

The Coalition intends to pay claimants directly in future, despite recent pilots finding than many failed to forward their rent to landlords and fell into arrears as a result.

Although Sturgeon set up an expert working group to look at welfare options under independence, ending bedroom tax has been a ministerial decision, and is not the related to the expert group.

Alex Salmond yesterday said the nine SNP-led councils in Scotland would not evict their tenants for the first year of the bedroom tax if they got into arrears.