More than £400,000 distributed to meet cost of ‘Bedroom Tax’

MSP Graeme Dey.
MSP Graeme Dey.

More than £400,000 has been distributed to 1,537 households across Angus in financial assistance to help meet the cost of the ‘Bedroom Tax’.

New figures released by Angus Council reveal that a total of £408,990 was paid out by the local authority in the form of Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP), during 2013/14.

The UK Government introduced the ‘Bedroom Tax’ in April last year, giving working-age social housing tenants who are deemed to have one or more spare bedrooms the option of either moving to a smaller property or paying more rent. A lack of single bedroom properties meant readily moving to a smaller home was not a credible option for thousands of tenants.

The Scottish Government, which has opposed the tax, contributed an extra £20 million to the DHP fund in 2013/14 to help those struggling most with the costs. That brought the total amount of funding to over £35 million, the maximum permitted under UK legislation.

Local MSP Graeme Dey said the Scottish Government’s action has prevented the effect of the tax being felt “more acutely”.

He said: “Scotland does not have a ready supply of single-bedroom properties available for tenants to move into meaning many, including some of the most vulnerable in society, would be left counting the costs if we had failed to take action.

“But thankfully this scenario has been avoided and I’m pleased that our SNP-led council has committed to a no eviction policy for Bedroom Tax victims, protecting people from the threat of losing their homes.

“The Scottish Government has long opposed the Bedroom Tax but let me be clear, the only way Scotland will be rid of the Bedroom Tax, and every other scrap of ill-designed legislation from a government not voted for by Scotland, is by securing a Yes vote in the independence referendum.”

Angus Council estimates the total Housing Benefit which will be lost in the county due to the bedroom tax in 2014/15 will be £392,000, an expected £1000 increase on this year’s figure.