Scotland politics

'Bedroom tax' call for action from Holyrood

Cumbernauld tower blocks
Image caption Much social housing, like these 1970s flats in Cumbernauld, was build for larger households

The Scottish parliament has been asked to change the law to prevent tenants being evicted because of changes to housing benefit.

Mike Dailly of the Govan Law Centre said that people could be homeless because of the UK government reforms.

He said Holyrood should act to minimise the consequences of the change.

But, speaking on Sunday Politics Scotland, SNP MSP Linda Fabiani claimed little could be done until the Scottish parliament has more powers.

The changes to housing benefit are intended to encourage mobility by discouraging tenants from staying in homes deemed too large for their needs.

Mr Dailly said: "This is the new poll tax in Scotland. It's a vicious attack on the low paid and poor.

"The Scottish government can do a lot to prevent people from being evicted."

The law on benefits is a reserved matter, controlled by the UK parliament at Westminster, but Mr Dailly said Holyrood could change the law in areas that it does control.

"What we are calling on is for the Scottish government to change housing law so that if you incur 'bedroom tax' arrears that should be treated as an ordinary debt but not allow you to be evicted," he suggested.

Costs

Speaking on the same programme, Ms Fabiani said the Scottish parliament's powers were limited.

"I'm actually not convinced by this proposal because I don't think it'll particularly help the people who have the problem," she said.

"I also think it makes it very difficult for social landlords who have to pass on that cost to the remaining tenants.

"For me, the answer is that this (change to housing benefit) should not be happening."

Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie insisted that cuts to the benefit bill are essential.

"No change is not an option," he said.

"We've got a combination of a housing crisis, with about 187,000 people on waiting lists, and a financial crisis."

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