Growing bedroom tax arrears highlight necessity of Yes

by Angus Millar

A "worryingly" large number of people subjected to the Bedroom Tax in Scotland are building up arrears, with the next instalment of Westminster’s welfare cuts likely to make things even worse, according to a new report by housing expert Professor Kenneth Gibb.

The research, commissioned by the Scottish Parliament’s cross-party Welfare Reform Committee, also highlights a number of factors leading people hit by the changes to remain in their homes and pay the tax. These include the lack of available housing stock, the desire to remain part of local communities and the need for a living space which caters to specific needs - such as those of people with disabilities and separated families.

- The Bedroom Tax is a policy Scotland opposed
- The tax affects 80,000 households across Scotland
- 80% of affected households include an adult with disabilities.

Underlining the outrageous nature of the policy, even if those affected by the tax were all to give up their homes to try and downsize, the report notes that it could take up to a decade to secure the required number of smaller lettings.

The Bedroom Tax is a policy which the majority of people in Scotland oppose and over 90% of our MPs voted against the measure in the House of Commons. However, like the rest of Westminster’s controversial benefits cuts, it was implemented anyway, affecting 80,000 households across Scotland – 80% of which include an adult with disabilities.

The new report is a painful reminder that in the areas controlled by Westminster – on the economy and social protection, for example – we in Scotland are powerless to stop unwanted policies and the social and economic harm they bring being imposed here.

We know that only with the powers of an independent nation will Scotland have the ability to abolish the hated tax. Three of this country’s main political parties – Labour, the SNP and the Scottish Greens – all agree that it should be repealed, and after independence a Scottish Government, elected by the people of Scotland, will have the powers it needs to do so.

A No vote, on the other hand, means that decisions about our welfare system continue to be taken by a UK Parliament more concerned with the bonuses of bankers in the City of London than the needs of ordinary people in Scotland. It means that we remain powerless to protect people on lower incomes and the most vulnerable in our society from Westminster’s worst excesses.

Things don’t have to be this way, and we can do so much better than fire-fighting Tory cuts. With a Yes vote, we have a chance to build a fairer welfare system – one which works to help people into employment and ensures that everyone has a decent standard of living.

And crucially, it means that never again will Scotland have to put up with unwanted policies like the Bedroom Tax.

It is all too clear that Westminster isn’t working for Scotland. Let’s take the chance to reject it once and for all, and say Yes to a fairer future.

Welfare state