Call to fully mitigate impact of the 'bedroom tax'

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Petitioner Alan Wyllie from the No2Bedroom Tax Campaign called on the Scottish government to fully mitigate the impact of the so-called bedroom tax and "protect tenants against unworkable and outright nasty politics", on 28 January 2014.

Mr Wyllie was giving evidence on petition PE01496 "calling on the Scottish government to make approximately £50 million available to mitigate all effects of the bedroom tax in Scotland", saying the situation for many tenants was now "desperate".

The withdrawal of the spare room subsidy, as it is known by the UK government, known as the bedroom tax by its critics, has meant that 14% is deducted from housing benefit for one "spare" bedroom and a quarter for two or more.

The Scottish government provided £20m to allow local authorities to top up their 2013-14 Discretionary Housing Payment budgets to the maximum allowed by legislation, repeating the commitment in 2014-15.

Discretionary Housing Payments are made to those with a temporary or short-term shortfall in housing costs.

More than 45,000 households in Scotland have received special financial help from councils since the changes to housing benefit last April.

Scottish Labour are also calling for the full mitigation of the cut to be increased from £20m to £50m annually and are in discussions with the Scottish government to "consign the bedroom tax to history in Scotland right here right now".

Mr Wyllie accepted the level of Discretionary Housing Payments were at their highest level possible but said the Scottish government could supplement the income streams of social regulated landlords or create a prevention of homelessness fund to address the crisis.

Jack Ferguson from Unite, also from the No2Bedroom Tax Campaign highlighted the thousands of social housing tenants in the UK who will now have to receive money back after the removal of the spare room subsidy was wrongly applied to them.

Mr Ferguson told MSPs fully mitigating the bedroom tax would be "one of the most important decisions the parliament's probably ever taken in its history" and the level of emergency required action urgently to address the "social chaos being caused by this policy".

David Bookbinder from the Chartered Institute of Housing; David Ogilvie from the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and Jim Hayton from the Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers gave evidence in the second session on the petiton, which can be viewed below:

Welfare Reform Committee 2

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