Socialist Worker

Plan to ‘refund’ bedroom tax in Scotland is huge blow to Tories

A plan to put aside millions to help those affected by the bedroom tax in Scotland is a major victory for campaigners, reports Dave Sewell

Issue No. 2389

Protesting against the bedroom tax in Kelvingrove, Glasgow last August

Protesting against the bedroom tax in Kelvingrove, Glasgow last August (Pic: Joshua Brown)


The Scottish National Party (SNP) and Labour have announced a joint plan to effectively free poor council and housing association tenants from the bedroom tax.

The SNP announced on Monday of this week that the budget for the next tax year is set to include an extra £15 million.

This will pay the bedroom tax for all 76,000 households it affects in Scotland. 

The Scottish Anti Bedroom Tax Federation called it “a huge victory for the thousands upon thousands of working class people who refused to accept the so-called inevitable, and are responsible for its defeat.”

The Scottish government can give people their cash back through Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) if the Tories agree to exempt them from a cap on DHP payment levels. Or they can use other mechanisms.

It isn’t clear what measures will be put in place for the tenants who have already built up arrears or even lost their homes. 

Blow

But this is a enourmous blow to one of the Tories’ most hated policies.

“It’s a major step forward,” Keir McKechnie from the Scottish Anti Bedroom Tax Federation’s steering group told Socialist Worker. 

“For the past year we’ve been arguing for the abolition of the bedroom tax, and for the Scottish government to cough up the money.

“Now people elsewhere in Britain should take great hope from the fact that mass campaigning has put the issue at the top of the Scottish political agenda and forced the politicians to take notice.

“Neither the SNP nor Labour want to go into the referendum on Scottish independence with people saying they’ve done nothing about the bedroom tax. 

“That wouldn’t have happened without mass campaigning.

“Now we need to make sure the Westminster government lifts the cap, and that scrapping rent arrears and ruling out evictions is a major part of any deal.”

The Scottish deal shows that campaigning can make a real difference.

But the hated bedroom tax remains. This deal should give campaigners everywhere a boost in the battle to get rid of it for good.


Britain's benefits are too low

Tory work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith was hit with a further blow last week.  

The Council of Europe slammed the “manifestly inadequate” level of several benefits in Britain. 

It said the state pension, Jobseeker’s Allowance, employment support allowance and long term incapacity benefit were all less than 40 percent of the average European income.

The low level of benefits  means Britain has violated European regulations.

Research also revealed the shocking impact of cuts to benefits.

Figures revealed by Freedom of Information requests show that council tax benefit cuts have seen 500,000 people issued with a court summons since last April.

The figures also show a further 70,000 have been hounded by bailiffs.

 


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