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Scots freed from bedroom tax

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New powers from Westminister will allow the Scottish Government to create a fund to cover all bedroom tax payments

Scottish ministers can effectively wipe-out the the bedroom tax after new powers were offered to Holyrood by the Westminster government.

The powers would allow Scottish ministers to increase the discretionary housing payments (DHP) budget, allowing them to allocate extra cash to offset the impact of the controversial spare room subsidy, which affects an estimated 72,000 households in Scotland.

This is not only a victory for common sense it is a victory for social justice - Graeme Brown

In a letter to the deputy first minister, David Mundell, secretary of state for Scotland, offered to transfer the power to the Scottish Government through a Section 63 order which will require the agreement of the UK and Scottish Governments before being approved by both the parliaments.

In February Scottish finance secretary John Swinney announced extra funding for discretionary housing payments to help tenants whose benefits were affected.

However ministers were only allowed to allocate an extra £22.85m on top of the £15m already pledged for DHP, falling way short of the estimated £50m needed to mitigate the bedroom tax’s impact on Scots.

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said the move was great news for those households affected by the “iniquitous tax” in Scotland and congratulated the Scottish Government for making it happen.

He added: “Ultimately the only way to banish the bedroom tax is to scrap the policy for good. Until that time, the Scottish Government can now fulfil its commitment to help all those struggling to pay their rent as a result of the bedroom tax.

“This is not only a victory for common sense it is a victory for social justice.”

Mundell said the UK government believes in taking a pragmatic approach to devolution.

“We believe in a United Kingdom that gives Scotland the best of both worlds. I hope that officials from both governments will now be able to take this forward.”

Welcoming the news, deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "We had already set aside the money to be able to help every household in Scotland affected by the bedroom taxt – once we have the powers, we will be able to use it and provide vital assistance to thousands of hard-pressed Scots.

“I am delighted that in future anyone who has been affected by this unfair policy will receive the help they need and would encourage them to contact their local authority to apply for assistance through the DHP scheme."

 

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