Room for more tax?

FAMILIES across the southside are set to take a financial hit with the introduction of bedroom tax.

More than 500 East Renfrewshire families will be worse off financially as a result of the Westminster government’s implementation of the controversial duty.

From April this year, social housing tenants with spare rooms will see their housing benefits cut by 14 per cent for one extra bedroom and 25 per cent for two or more.

Politicians from across the southside have called on the coalition to reconsider.

Eastwood MSP Ken Macintosh said: “Last month we discovered that according to these new rules, foster children and those looked after by kinship carers are not to be treated as part of the family.

“Now we find out just how many are going to be penalised simply for living in their own home. Here in East Renfrewshire, most social housing has more than one bedroom, meaning that families may find it difficult to relocate and will be trapped.”

Almost 40 per cent of housing benefit recipients will be punished by the reform.

Glasgow MSP Humza Yousaf believes this will make a huge difference to many families in the city.

The SNP man said: “People who are already struggling with other benefit cuts as well as rising food and utility prices will be hit with a penalty which could be more than £20 per week.

“This tax will also discriminate against people who live in specially adapted social housing – estimates show that 16,000 Scots in socially rented housing who will have to pay extra have an aid or adaptation to their house to assist a household member with a disability.”

A Thornliebank resident, who asked not to be named, has described the decision as a “breakdown of the social welfare system”.

He said: “If I am forced to move to a one bedroom property, it will most likely be to a private landlord as there aren’t enough one bedrooms within the authority.

“If I move to a private landlordm, with local rent allowance, I can be awarded £394 per month, when I am currently paying £124 . How can that make any savings?

“The motivation is not benefit savings, the system only works if people don’t move.

“People will be made homeless, £11 would amount to 25 per cent of my weekly income. The most vulnerable are the ones being picked on.”

However, Conservative west of Scotland MSP Jackson Carlaw has defended his party’s move as he believes there is “clear support for 
welfare reform across Scotland”.

“Even the Labour Party, 
despite the litany of 
scaremongering attacks they’ve made”, he said, “have supported the principle of welfare reform.

“Yet they and the SNP have opposed every proposed reform measure while failing to devise any of their own.

“It cannot be right that tax payers are funding properties with rooms which are not used when there is a housing shortage in areas including East Renfrewshire.”

What do you think? Share your thoughts by emailing Gregor (link above) and your letter could be published in next week’s paper.