DWP reneges on Scots bedroom tax promise

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UK government accused of "cynically" dragging its heels 

9th April 2018 by Robert Armour 3 Comments

Westminster has been slated for delaying Scotland’s right to abolish the bedroom tax.

Scotland’s social security minister Angela Constance said the DWP has taken a “unilateral” decision to delay giving Scotland full control over the housing element of universal credit until 2020 “at the earliest” despite the UK government promising to provide that ability from spring 2019.

New laws passed following the Smith Commission review of devolution means Scotland will abolish the hated tax when the DWP passes it the authority to do so.   

As such, the Scottish Government currently mitigates the bedroom tax through the use of discretionary housing payments (DHP) but this is only effective if those who need help apply to the fund.

Angela Constance said: “The bedroom tax is an abhorrent charge which is why we spend £50 million a year mitigating it in order to protect people on low incomes.  

"There is just no place for that in a modern Scotland and we want to put an end to it completely. However, what we don’t want to see is anyone’s benefits being reduced by the UK government because by abolishing the bedroom tax they end up over the threshold for the imposed benefit cap.

“This is yet another example of the UK government going back on agreements in place to the detriment of those already finding it hard to get by.”

According to the Scottish Government, as many as 70,000 households are currently affected by the bedroom tax. Eight in ten of this group includes someone with disabilities.

At present, Holyrood uses discretionary housing payments to mitigate the support cut at a cost of £50 million a year, but this can only be done when eligible households make an application.

Tracy Burns, of the Scottish Anti Cuts Alliance, said Westminster ministers were deliberately trying to undermine Scotland’s new powers.

“There’s no good reason why they should delay the implementation of full control, other than to create more misery for already downtrodden Scots,” she said.  

“It’s a perfect example of how the UK government is only interested in punitive retribution. There will be more to come. We fully expect the DWP to make it very difficult for no other reason than to make more people suffer longer.”    

A spokesperson for the DWP said: “These measures will make a positive difference for universal credit claimants across Scotland and the rest of the UK and must be our priority.

“We continue to work constructively with the Scottish Government on this and have been very clear throughout that the potential date of 2019 was subject to detailed feasibility.”

Comments

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10th April 2018 by jdman

“We continue to work constructively with the Scottish Government on this and have been very clear throughout that the potential date of 2019 was subject to detailed feasibility.”Right you are then, so what exactly does that mean?

10th April 2018 by Ron Carthy

Theresa May, as PM, rediscovering and relishing why the Tory party was recognised as the Nasty Party. A first class example of the Peter Principle in operation

10th April 2018 by Nick Keane

I keep hearing/reading that the Scottish government have cancelled out the bedroom tax in Scotland with the use of discretionary housing benefit payments but it doesn't seem to apply to me! I got my 2 bedroom housing association flat when working full time but unfortunately fell ill and lost my job. I've been on ESA since then and receive housing benefit that covers the rent on an equivalent 1 bedroom property leaving me a shortfall every month. 1 bedroom properties are like hens teeth where I live so moving isn't an option as a result I have rent arrears. The housing association rightly put demands on me to pay off the arrears although this doesn't help my health. I applied for the DHP and received the princely sum of 12p per week!! I am disabled, have mental health issues and physical ailments and struggle.Am I missing something with regards to the Scottish government's claims to be helping those in need with bedroom tax help?