Bedroom tax no more in Scotland?

Tommy Sheridan among the thousands who marched from Glasgow Green to George Square to protest against the Bedroom Tax.
Tommy Sheridan among the thousands who marched from Glasgow Green to George Square to protest against the Bedroom Tax.

THE Scottish government has effectively scrapped the bedroom tax north of the border.

The deeply-unpopular spare room subsidy has seen massive opposition across the UK by people and groups who have expressed concern over the policy which removes housing benefit from people deemed to have extra rooms.

Now the Scottish government has said it hopes to provide cash assistance for those who are suffering as a result of an inability to pay.

Deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon has written to Lord Freud, the UK’s welfare minister, asking for his department to lift the cap on how much the Scottish government can offer to people in need.

The Scottish government currently pays £20 million as an emergency housing payment along with £15 million already made available to the country’s local authorities.

It now wants the Department of Works and Pensions to lift a cap and allow it to pay out a further £15 million — which will eradicate the bedroom tax in Scotland.

Ms Sturgeon, who is an MSP for Glasgow Southside, said: “The Scottish Government is currently spending up to the legal limit in order to mitigate the effects of the Bedroom Tax on thousands of people across Scotland.

“We are more than willing to put in the extra £15 million, which would increase the amount of help available to a total of £50 million.

“If Westminster lifts the legal cap — which they can easily do — we will be able to help the 76,000 people in Scotland who are suffering from this cut.

“In order to make this legally possible Westminster needs to lift the cap for Scotland and UK ministers should act now.”

Among those welcoming the move is Govan Law Centre, which has been among those leading a campaign against the subsidy.

The firm, lead by campaigning solicitor, Mike Daily, reported on its website: “We would like to thank the Scottish government for taking this bold step in stopping the most regressive social policy in Scotland since the poll tax.

“In particular, we are grateful to Jackie Baillie MSP for working tirelessly and securing the right to introduce the Protection from Eviction (Bedroom Tax) (Scotland) Bill.

“Without the pressure of Jackie’s Member’s Bill we wouldn’t be where we are today.

“Govan Law Centre will continue to watch events with the bedroom tax.”