Minister calls for end to bedroom tax help cap
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Finance
Scottish Government pledges £2.5 million support for households hit by bedroom tax
Scotland's deputy first minister has urged Westminster to lift the legal limit it has imposed on the amount of financial help the Scottish government can give to victims of the bedroom tax.
According to Nicola Sturgeon, the UK Government could easily remove the legal restrictions on discretionary housing payments (DHPs), allowing Scottish ministers to add an extra £15 million to help social housing tenants affected by the under-occupancy policy.
In a letter to welfare reform minister Lord Freud, Sturgeon explains that if the cap is repealed, the Scottish government will be able to commit the extra funding in housing help for those who need it most – increasing the current DHP funds of £35m to £50m in 2014/15 and helping the 76,000 people in Scotland hit by the bedroom tax.
Sturgeon said: “In order to abolish the bedroom tax we need the powers that would come from independence.
“The bedroom tax penalises some of the most vulnerable people in our society. We know that over 12,000 children are affected by the bedroom tax and 80% of households hit contain an adult with a recognised disability.
“We have already provided as much help as legally possible to those suffering from this unjust policy but we are unfairly restricted in what we can do. For example, despite Scotland having 20,000 more households affected by the bedroom tax than London, the DHP allocation for Scotland in 2014/15 is £35 million less than London.
“The Scottish government is currently spending up to the legal limit in order to mitigate the effects of the bedroom tax on thousands of people across Scotland. We are more than willing to put in the extra £15m, which would increase the amount of help available to a total of £50m.
“If Westminster lifts the legal cap – which they can easily do - we will be able to help the 76,000 people in Scotland who are suffering from this cut.
“In order to make this legally possible Westminster needs to lift the cap for Scotland and UK ministers should act now.”