MacDonald welcomes more support for Falkirk District tenants affected by welfare reform

Falkirk East MSP encourages tenants who are affected by the ‘Bedroom Tax’ to apply for financial support.

Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald has today asked households in his constituency who have lost out on housing benefit through the ‘Bedroom Tax’ to access compensation through Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP).

DHPs provide financial support for housing costs to people on housing benefits. DHPs are currently reserved to Westminster and administered by local authorities in Scotland, with a statutory cap on how much local authorities are able to spend.

However, the UK Government confirmed on Friday (2 May 2014) it will now transfer the power to lift the cap to the Scottish Government, meaning a total of £50 million can be invested from the Scottish Government’s budget in this financial year, to help the 72,000 Scottish households who are suffering from the effects of ‘Bedroom Tax’.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will meet with Scotland Office Minister David Mundell this week to discuss the transfer of powers from the UK Government to the Scottish Government. The Depute First Minister will also demand that the cap is removed as quickly as possible.

Welcoming the announcement in the Scottish Parliament today, Angus MacDonald said:

“It is important that Falkirk Council ensures its DHP procedures to not create any unnecessary barriers to tenants applying for a DHP.

“It is worth stressing that the Scottish Government is now able to mitigate the impact of the Westminster imposed bedroom tax. Unfortunately, the Scottish Government is not yet able to legally abolish it. That means tenants are still legally responsible for the rent due as a result of the reduction in their housing benefit.

“So it is important to send a very clear message to social tenants today. If you are affected by the bedroom tax, help is available. But you must apply for this help.

“I would advise tenants who feel they might qualify to engage with their landlord and apply for a DHP as soon as possible to enable them to pay the shortfall in their rent. And they should do so even if they have been refused a DHP in the past.

“I welcome the fact that as a result of Scottish Government action, there will be no need for anyone to fall into rent arrears or face eviction as a result of the bedroom tax.

“There can be no better or stronger illustration of the need for this Parliament to have powers over welfare than the scandal of the bedroom tax. A tax designed to address a problem in the south east of England, but has impacted on Scottish people already struggling in one of the world’s most unequal societies. What would make sense is for our Scottish Parliament, rather than having to mitigate the bedroom tax, to instead have the power to ensure that we didn't have a bedroom tax in the first place.

“With full powers over welfare and taxation, this Government and this Parliament will be able to make the right decisions for the people of Scotland on these vitally important matters.”

Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) is additional short-term financial assistance for those in receipt of Housing Benefit who still face shortfalls in their housing costs and need further help to pay their rent.

Residents of Falkirk district claiming housing benefit can get more information and download the claim form here:

http://www.falkirk.gov.uk/services/chief_executive/finance/revenues/benefits/discretionary.aspx

 

Copyright © Angus MacDonald MSP 2017

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