By a Newsnet reporter
Over half a million Scots, could lose out on council tax benefit after proposed changes to the welfare system by the UK coalition government.
Following the granny tax – the SNP have exposed the impact UK plans to replace Council Tax Benefit and cut the budget for supporting council tax payers by 10% could have in Scotland.
The UK is abolishing council tax benefit and in transferring funding to Scotland is slashing the budget by 10% creating a £40m hole.
According to the SNP, 556,000 people on fixed and low incomes receive council tax benefit including 213,000 pensioners. The nationalists have accused the Conservative / Lib Dem coalition of hammering the household budgets of those who can least afford it.
SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn slammed the UK’s continued attack on pensioners and less well-off families struggling to recover from the recession.
Mr Hepburn, Deputy Convener of the Welfare Reform Committee, said:
“First they slash welfare for people on disabilities, hit households with cuts to tax credits and then change the tax arrangements for pensioners with the granny tax – now we know that over 200,000 pensioners face being hit by UK cuts to council tax benefit.
“This could see pensioner couples lose nearly £100 in benefit. Pensioners appear to be paying the price of UK Coalition cuts.
“It is typical of this government to think nothing of people on fixed incomes struggling to pay bills and more of their millionaire friends.
“And they are trying to take more money from those who are unemployed or single parents at a time when the job market is struggling to recover. Where are people supposed to make the extra money to pay the UK Government when its economic policies are leaving people without jobs.
“I welcome the decision to finally transfer council tax benefit to Scotland but to slash the budget on the way is utterly unacceptable. At the same time as UK changes to housing benefit are having a real impact on low income families this is a step too far.
“The Scottish Government said in the budget that it had held back money to help those affected by the impact of UK Government cuts and I know they are looking at how to support those hit by the UK’s council tax cut.
“We support our pensioners and low earners, that’s why the SNP has frozen the council tax freeze for the last 5 years and will do so right up to 2016.”