Bedroom Tax row grows as Sturgeon claims Westminster not working for Scotland


  By G.A.Ponsonby
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has described UK Prime Minister David Cameron as “living proof” that Westminster is not working in Scotland’s best interests as the issue of the Bedroom Tax moved onto the independence debate centre stage.
Commenting on the effects of the UK government’s welfare reform plans, Ms Sturgeon said that the so called ‘Bedroom tax’ would hit the vulnerable.

The SNP’s Depute leader said:
“The Westminster government’s ‘Bedroom Tax’ is inflicting serious harm on families and vulnerable people and is just one very powerful illustration that the Westminster system of government isn’t working for Scotland.  The PM is living proof of that.  Under that system Scotland gets Tory PMs it didn’t vote for, implementing policies like the ‘Bedroom Tax’ that we don’t agree with.
“Many people across Scotland are suffering as a direct result of Westminster government benefit cuts, and many more are concerned about how they may be affected by changes yet to come into force.”

The row over the controversial tax has led to fears that vulnerable people may be evicted from their homes if they are unable to pay their rent.  The tax, which will come into force in a few weeks, will see people living in social housing up to £22 worse off if they are deemed to have a spare bedroom.

UK Government ministers have already said that people on low wages should work more hours in order to make up the loss or consider taking in a lodger.

However, the head of Scotland’s local authority umbrella group COSLA has said that the Tory plan would backfire in Scotland.

Speaking to the Sunday Herald, David O’Neill said: “What about parents who are separated and want to have a continuing relationship with their kids? Do they get the bedroom taken off them, thereby jeopardising the relationship with the kids?

“The whole thing has been badly thought out, and our fear is it’s going to be badly implemented.

“I get the train in the morning, and I walk from Central Station to Queen Street Station, and The Big Issue sellers are there.  This time next year, I’m probably going to be tripping over them.  I think it’s going to prove to be disastrous.”

David Ogilvie, policy manager at the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, said the tax was unfair.

“It’s going to impact on vulnerable people, people in adapted homes, disabled people, and it’s unfair to landlords because it’s putting their income at risk” he said.

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister claimed that the UK coalition’s welfare changes were threatening the “very institutions which once made us distinct” and warned that the welfare state was now under attack.

She added: “It is just further evidence of the need for independence.  We want a welfare system in Scotland that provides fair and decent support for all and protects the vulnerable in our society.
“By placing himself at the head of the No campaign, David Cameron is simply reminding people that he heads a government that Scotland didn’t vote for and that independence is the only way to ensure that Scotland always gets the government it votes for.”

Scottish Labour has claimed that the Scottish government should shoulder some of the blame for the effects of the tax, which is being described by critics as worse than the poll tax.

However Labour’s calls for more one bedroom houses to be built in Scotland has been ridiculed by the SNP, who said Labour would face a backlash due to their “betrayal of the large numbers of people in Scotland” who voted for Johann Lamont’s party in the belief they were standing for social justice.