So-called "bedroom tax" to be fully mitigated in Scotland


Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said, that thanks to Scottish government action, "there will be no need for anyone to fall into rent arrears, or face eviction, as a result of the bedroom tax", on 7 May 2014.

Ms Sturgeon confirmed an offer from the UK government to give Scottish ministers new powers to dictate the amount councils can spend on helping social housing tenants cope with the impact of the controversial policy had been accepted.

The UK government introduced the removal of the spare room subsidy, known widely as the "bedroom tax" by its critics.

At the moment, the Department for Work and Pensions sets the cap on discretionary housing payments which are being used to help those worst hit by the policy.

The cabinet secretary said while the Scottish government could now fully mitigate its impact, it could not abolish it which meant the responsibility remained with the social housing tenant.

She appealed: "Social tenants, if you are affected by the bedroom tax help is available but you must apply for this help, engage with landlords and do so even if you have been refused a discretionary housing payment in the past."

Ms Sturgeon criticised the UK government for introducing the "bedroom tax" in the first place and for making the Scottish government "jump through legal hoops to spend the money we have set aside to mitigate the policy."

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie, who had lodged a bill to protect tenants who face losing their homes as a result of the withdrawal of the spare room subsidy, said her party had "pushed and pulled the SNP along" on the issue.

Ms Baillie criticised the Scottish government for what she said had been its delay in acting.

Labour were aiming their attack at the wrong target, as responsibility lay with the UK government, said Ms Sturgeon, who added Labour's position lacked credibility as abolition was preferable to mitigation.

Scottish Conservative Alex Johnstone called for measures to deal with overcrowding in Scottish households, which he said the removal of the spare room subsidy had been meant to address.

The Scottish government welcomed the additional powers from Westminster, but the deputy first minister stressed she wanted the powers to "ensure we did not have a bedroom tax in the first place, full powers over welfare".

Scottish Liberal Democrat Willie Rennie offered "constructive support" to help with the establishment of the new power, which was welcomed by Ms Sturgeon.

Scottish Green Party co-convener Patrick Harvey highlighted the private rented sector, where the policy was first introduced and asked if it could be reversed there as well.

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