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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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'Bedroom Tax' to Cost Scots £53 million a Year

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

SNP Spokesperson for Work and Pensions Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP has written to Liberal Democrat Jo Swinson MP expressing her concern following the release of new figures which show the introduction of the ‘bedroom tax’ will cost Scots up to £53m a year. Jo Swinson MP was one of only 4 Scottish MPs to vote in favour of the bedroom tax at Westminster despite her constituency of East Dunbartonshire having the highest proportion of under-occupancy in Scotland.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford MP said:

“It is astounding Jo Swinson MP backed the Tories rather than looking out for some of her most disadvantaged constituents.

“The new figures show that the under-occupancy penalty could cost Scots council and housing association tenants £53m a year. East Dunbartonshire has the highest proportion of under-occupancy in Scotland- where 56% of working age tenants are on housing benefit.

“By voting for the ‘bedroom tax’ Jo Swinson MP has failed to acknowledge the underlying shortage in affordable housing in Scotland and the backdrop of changing demographics. What makes the Government’s under-occupancy rules fundamentally unworkable is the mismatch between available social housing stock and the needs of tenants and prospective tenants.

“As long as decisions about welfare are made in Westminster, Scotland will continue to have unfair and damaging policies forced on it by governments that we didn’t vote for. That is why Scotland needs to have the powers of independence, so that we can make decisions in and for Scotland."

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Labour in Shambles over Workers' Vote

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Labour have found themselves in a shambles following a vote on workers’ rights which saw a number of backbenchers rebel against the party, and a fierce backlash from supporters on social media.

Labour abstained on a vote which allowed the UK Government to speed a retroactive law through parliament that will overturn the outcome of a court of appeal judgement and ensure the government no longer has to pay £130m in benefit rebates to about a quarter of a million jobseekers.

Dr Eilidh Whiteford, the SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson commented :

“Labour have found themselves in a shambles over this vote- they have sold out on their founding principles of protecting workers’ rights. The party could not even convince their MPs their position was a good idea, and many rebelled. Quite understandably, they are facing a fierce backlash from supporters.

“A very simple principle underpins what we have been debating. If someone works a shift for an employer, they deserve a fair day’s pay for their time and effort. There are no circumstances in which it’s OK not to pay employees, or to pay them a derisory sum below the legal Minimum Wage for the work they undertake. There are many who will feel that the Government’s Back to Work Schemes fall some way short of this principle – but the critical point is that the courts have found aspects of the regulations and sanctions regime attached to the schemes to be unlawful.

“Labour have allowed the Tories to effectively be 'off the hook'. That is simply astonishing, and leaves Labour with many questions to answer.

“The real solution – the only workable solution - is to drive growth and create demand in the economy. That’s the way to create jobs and get people into work. Only with a Yes vote in 2014 can we ensure that those key aims are met and we avoid the sorry situation of Tory and Labour assaults on the working poor.”

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Bedroom Tax Amendments "Fall Short"

Tuesday, 12 March 2013


LAST MINUTE CHANGES SHOW UK GOV DISARRAY

SNP Work and Pensions Spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP has written to Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith urging him to scrap the bedroom tax in its entirety, following last-minute amendments to the policy.

In a Written Ministerial Statement today, Iain Duncan Smith said approved foster carers, children with disabilities and adult children in the Armed Forces will be exempt from the bedroom tax and allowed an additional room. However many of the most disadvantaged people in Scotland will still be blighted by the policy.

Dr Whiteford said:

“These last-minute amendments, just weeks before the policy is to be implemented, shows how weak this legislation is. The most disadvantaged people in Scotland, including single parents and disabled adults, will still be deeply affected, despite over 90 per cent of Scotland’s MPs voting against this iniquitous measure - which is why welfare policy should be decided in Scotland, which 64% of the Scottish people support, requiring the powers of independence.

“The Bedroom Tax is set to have a disproportionate effect in Scotland due to the application of the size criteria to local authority owned temporary housing. In Scotland over 50% of homeless temporary accommodation is local authority owned, compared to the rest of the UK where the bulk of temporary accommodation for homelessness provision is leased from the private sector, a problem which was recognised by Pensions Minister Steve Webb yesterday.

“Iain Duncan Smith has recognised there are major problems, so he should go one step further and scrap this unworkable and unfair piece of legislation. To ignore the plight of the many other people in society who will face the brunt of the bedroom tax is wrong and shambolic.”

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UK Gov Admit Bedroom Tax had Disproportionate Consequences in Scotland

Monday, 11 March 2013

SNP MP Eilidh Whiteford has today (Monday) called the UK government on the disproportionate consequences of the Bedroom Tax legislation in Scotland.

The Bedroom Tax is set to have a devastating impact in Scotland due to the application of the size criteria to local authority owned temporary housing.

In Scotland over 50% of homeless temporary accommodation is local authority owned, compared to the rest of the UK where the bulk of temporary accommodation for homelessness provision is leased from the private sector. Speaking in the House of Commons, Eilidh Whiteford MP asked Minister of State for Pensions, Steve Webb, whether such consequences were an oversight.

Commenting, Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“Amid all the soundbites about spare bedrooms, there has been a failure to acknowledge the underlying shortage in affordable housing across the UK and the backdrop of changing demographics. What makes the Government’s under-occupancy rules fundamentally unworkable is the mismatch between available social housing stock and the needs of tenants and prospective tenants.

“The scale of the problem varies across the UK, but in Scotland, for example, only 26% of homes available for social rent are one-bedroom properties yet 60% of tenants affected by this measure require a one-bedroom home. According to the National Housing Federation, in England there are twice as many people under-occupying two-bedroom homes than the number of one-bedroom properties that became available last year. No matter how we shuffle people around, not enough homes of the right size are available for affordable rent.

“That mismatch is entirely outside the control of tenants, yet they are being punished for a structural problem not of their making.”


The exchange from the House of Commons is below:

Eilidh Whiteford
  • Mr Speaker, half of all the temporary accommodation in Scotland is council owned and its sizes reflect the existing housing stock and a varying range of needs in that sector. The discretionary housing budget in Scotland will not even cover the cost of keeping disabled people in specially adapted homes so in no way is it going to cover the needs of people in temporary accommodation. Will the government look again at this and reconsider what I can only assume is an unintended consequence or an oversight.
Steve Webb
  • Mr Speaker, the honourable lady does raise the important issue of the mismatch between the housing stock and the families who need housing and that is something that has gone unaddressed for decades and is something that we now need to address but we do recognize there may be particular issues in Scotland partly with rurality and partly with the housing stock and we’re certainly happy to continue the conversation with honourable members.

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Local MP Puts Renewable Energy 'on the Map' for WWF's Earth Hour

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford showed her support this week for energy powered by nature, as part of WWF’s Earth Hour 2013. Members of Parliament were asked to put wind, wave, and solar power symbols on a UK weather map to symbolise the need for more renewable energy - to help protect our planet.

As the lights go out for this year’s Earth Hour, on Saturday 23 March at 8.30pm, people will be asked to show their support for energy that works with the power of nature, not against it.

In the UK we are consuming three times our fair share of the planet’s natural resources. Our reliance on high carbon fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas is overheating the atmosphere and affecting the climate. The future of our planet relies on us moving away from unsustainable energy sources and on to renewable energy.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“WWF’s Earth Hour is a simple idea that brings together millions of people across the globe who all care about one thing – our planet. In this country, our energy system needs to change and I want wind, wave and solar power to be part of the future. If we are serious about shaping a better future for generations to come, then we need to act now.”

Last year over 7 million people in the UK took part in WWF’s Earth Hour. This unique global phenomenon encourages every corner of the globe to switch off for one hour and includes iconic landmarks such as The Houses of Parliament, the Sydney Opera House and the Taj Mahal.

Darren Shirley from WWF said:

“We’ve only got one planet, so it’s vital we do everything we can to protect it. There are important decisions to be made now and we have a choice of either a fossil fuel future or a clean green future. Renewable energy provides an opportunity for the UK and can contribute towards economic growth and create jobs whilst protecting our planet.”

To find out more about WWF’s Earth Hour and register to take part please go to: wwf.org.uk/earthhour and join millions of people who are signing up to the big switch off.

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Bedroom Tax Warning for Aberdeenshire

Friday, 1 March 2013

Banff & Buchan MP and SNP Spokesperson for Welfare Eilidh Whiteford has warned an estimated 2,250 households in Aberdeenshire will be hit by the UK Government's bedroom tax.

The under-occupancy penalty will cut Housing Benefit of low income households in Aberdeenshire by an average of £14 a week- or over £700 a year for tenants who are deemed to be living in a home bigger than their needs. The figures were released by the National Housing Federation ahead of a debate on bedroom tax today in the House of Commons, led by the SNP.

Commenting, Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

"The most vulnerable people in my constituency are being hit by this tax, with the vast majority of households affected being home to someone with a recognised disability.

"This policy is inherently unfair. People on the lowest incomes are paying the price for structural problems affecting the supply of affordable housing. The bedroom tax is also unworkable- instead of addressing the underlying problems, it undermines the ability of social landlords to invest in the kind of affordable housing that is so badly needed.

"This policy will be imposed on Scotland, despite the fact over 80 per cent of Scottish MPs voted against.

"In Scotland we have an opportunity to change, so that we make our own democratic decisions. With independence we have the opportunity to do things differently."

"In Scotland we have an opportunity to change, so that we make our own democratic decisions. With independence we have the opportunity to do things differently."

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