‘Bedroom Tax’ help
Tuesday, 21 January 2014 16:13
Over 45,500 households supported.
Over 45,500 hard-pressed households in Scotland have claimed £15.4 million in emergency housing help from April to November last year, figures published today show.
The figures show 45,772 households claimed £15,365,860 in the eight month period, almost a fourfold increase compared to just under £4 million in 2012/13.
Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) are a reserved responsibility and come under the remit of the Department of Work and Pensions. DHPs are made by Local Authorities to housing benefit claimants who qualify for support.
The Scottish Government contributed and extra £20 million to the DHP fund in 2013/14 to help those struggling most with the costs of the ‘Bedroom Tax’. This brings the total amount of funding to over £35 million - the maximum permitted under UK legislation.
Angus MacDonald MSP commented:
“Actions taken by the Scottish Government on behalf of those affected by the bedroom tax are very welcome and have made a huge difference to their lives.
“It has also recently transpired that there is a loophole in the Bedroom Tax policy which means anyone who has been in the same property since 1996 and was on housing benefits during the same period is actually exempt from the tax.
“I would urge anyone who thinks this may apply to them to contact the council immediately to advise them that they will be due this money back.
“The Tory led Westminster Government will work to close this loophole from the end of March so it is vital to contact the council as soon as possible.
“I would ask Falkirk Council’s Housing & Social Care Convener, Councillor Gerry Goldie to make it his priority to identify people who may be eligible and assist them in claiming this money back.”
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“We have provided an extra £20 million in this financial year to help those affected by the Bedroom Tax.
“That money has enabled councils to top up their Discretionary Housing Payments to the maximum amount that Westminster legislation allows – and help hard-pressed households across Scotland.
“We are also providing a further £20 million for next year so that we can continue this vital help.
“And we will continue to do all we can to help. However, only an independent Scottish Parliament will give us the powers we need to scrap the Bedroom Tax.
“Scotland has a choice of two futures – one in which Scotland continues to pay the price of Westminster’s welfare reforms, or one in which we have the powers to design a welfare system that suits our needs.”