Scottish government offers help for those hit by UK bedroom tax

By agency reporter
March 10, 2013

The Scottish government has announced that it will provide extra advice and support to help those who will lose out under UK Government housing benefit cuts like the bedroom tax.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said today that Holyrood is providing an additional £2.5 million to social landlords to ensure there is advice on hand for people who will lose housing benefit due to the under-occupancy measures and other housing benefit changes being introduced by Westminster.

Campaigners say that hugely more needs to be done to counteract the impact of Westminster's changes and cuts, but acknowledge it as a start and will be pressing the Scottish government for more action.

They say that changing the Housing Scotland Act 2001 would be much more effective.

Ms Sturgeon said: "I have made the Scottish Government’s firm opposition to the bedroom tax absolutely clear. It is a policy that will penalise some of the most vulnerable people in our society and I put the case for it to be scrapped in the strongest terms to the Deputy Prime Minister when we met in London this week.

"Sadly there appears to be indifference to this argument at Westminster, despite strong opposition from across Scotland.

"We are determined to do everything that we reasonably can to help and as part of these efforts we are making available an extra £2.5 million to social landlords to help them ensure that people affected by housing benefit changes have the advice and support they need. This is on top of the £5.4 million we have already allocated to help those affected by benefit reforms, which will go to organisations such as Citizens Advice.

"This extra support will assist social landlords in their efforts to engage directly with affected tenants and seek to identify ways in which they can deal with the impact of the changes.

"We are continuing to consider all reasonable steps that we can take to mitigate welfare cuts, including the bedroom tax. However, these unjust policies show why we need the powers of independence to protect vulnerable people rather than simply trying to cushion the blows in Scotland.

"It would be far better to control benefits and welfare so unfair policies like the bedroom tax are not even considered, let alone implemented," she concluded.

The £2.5 million will be distributed to social landlords from the financial year beginning April 2013. Details on the funding criteria and application process will be available shortly.

[Ekk/3]

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