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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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Bedroom Tax Undermining Homelessness Efforts This Festive Season

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

REPORTS COMES AT END OF WESTMINSTER’S “YEAR OF SHAME”

Local MP Eilidh Whiteford has condemned Westminster’s “year of shame” on the bedroom tax, and once again pledged that the hated tax would be scrapped in an independent Scotland.

In total over 82,000 households are estimated in Scotland to be affected by the tax, including 63,500 households with a disabled adult, and 15,000 households with children.

The Scottish Affairs Committee has belatedly begun to wake up to the damage the Bedroom Tax is having on vulnerable people in Scotland, with its report published this month calling for the tax to be scrapped. The committee was warned that the bedroom tax risked "fundamentally undermining" Scotland's progressive commitment to reducing homelessness and ensuring everyone has the right to a permanent home.

Policy manager at the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations David Ogilvie said the Scottish Parliament could be justifiably proud of the country’s homelessness commitment, but said: "The ability to achieve its own targets is being fundamentally undermined by this (bedroom tax) policy." He added that homeless people could be left in temporary accommodation for far longer periods of time as people affected by the bedroom tax are moved into the few smaller properties available.

However, these criticisms come too late – given that 47 Labour MPs failed to turn up to Labour’s own debate to scrap the tax, in a vote which was lost by 26 votes. Among them were 10 Scottish Labour MPs – including Deputy Leader Anas Sarwar, who had previously demanded Nicola Sturgeon sign a bill to scrap the tax.

More than 30 Lib Dem MPs voted to uphold the government's hated Bedroom Tax - despite their own party members having condemned the policy at their party conference.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“There are many hundreds of households in the North-east alone who are suffering financial difficulties as a result of the Bedroom Tax with many of those affected being low earners, single women tenants and the disabled. The SNP has repeatedly opposed the Bedroom Tax at Westminster, including in the ridiculous situation where a Labour opposition debate was lost by only 26 votes and a staggering 47 Labour MPs failed to turn up, including 10 from Scotland!

“The people who are being faced with problems as a result of the Bedroom Tax are the very people who need support to bring up children, to supplement a low wage or who simply cannot work due to significant ill health or disability. In a caring society this is unacceptable.

"The Bedroom Tax is inherently unfair. Locally, it is clearly shown by local authorities that they do not have any significant number of houses for people to downsize to, which makes the aim of policy impossible, even if that aim was right in the first place.

“One of the most significant gains of independence is that Scotland will have full control over its welfare system. That means only with a Yes vote will we finally be able to get rid of the unjust bedroom tax and have a welfare state that reflects the views and votes of the people of Scotland."

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