Housing minister accuses Mundell of 'bare-faced gall' over bedroom tax.


Housing and Welfare Minister Margaret Burgess accused Scotland Office minister David Mundell of "bare-faced gall" over his claims the Scottish Parliament had sufficient powers to scrap the so-called 'bedroom tax' on 14 January 2014.

Speaking in the Scotsman newspaper, Conservative MP Mr Mundell was quoted as saying of the SNP government: "It is the same as the childcare debate.

"It is a question of choices on where they want to spend their money."

Ms Burgess responded during topical questions by saying: "I was absolutely shocked to read David Mundell's comments.

"David Mundell is a member of the UK party that's in government in Westminster, imposed the bedroom tax on the people of Scotland."

The housing minister asked why the Scottish government "should make up for the failings of Westminster" and where, from an already reduced national budget, the money should come from.

Ms Burgess further explained the Scottish government had already allocated the maximum amount of £20 million, this year and then again next, permitted under the Scotland Act to mitigate some of the effects of the change to housing benefit.

She also called on the electorate to "vote yes" in the independence referendum claiming "there is only one solution - the Scottish Parliament should have control over welfare benefits and we could scrap the bedroom tax altogether".

Scottish Labour MSP Jenny Marra asked Ms Burgess if David Mundell MP "knows something the minister doesn't, and has she instructed her officials to do a full audit to make sure that there might be a mechanism that could mitigate this bedroom tax now, rather than waiting for a vote in September?"

The minister said "I don't think David Mundell actually understands that the Scotland Act expressively reserves welfare spending related to an individual's housing costs."

Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone asked "for a commitment that these policies will be fully costed prior to the referendum in September".

Ms Burgess replied "all the policies of this Scottish government are fully costed" and "I don't think we'll take any lessons from the Tories on budgets or costing".

Health Minister Alex Neil answered questions concerning the delay of the care home strategy which was due for publication in autumn 2013.

He said it was "far better to take a bit longer to get it right" before insisting it will be published soon.

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