By a Newsnet reporter
A woman from Glasgow has become the first in Scotland to be evicted due to the Bedroom Tax after falling behind with her rent.
The woman who lives in Pollok was already struggling with rent arrears of several hundred pounds when she was deemed to have an extra bedroom and had her housing benefits cut.
The reduction to her benefit led to her rent arrears increasing by just over three hundred pounds and her landlord, Glasgow Housing Association, instigated eviction proceedings.
Newsnet Scotland understands that lawyers acting on behalf of the woman had lodged papers aimed at preventing the eviction and that it was overturned, but papers did not arrive at GHA offices until after the lady had been evicted. However, according to a local SNP councillor who tried to persuade the GHA to let the woman back into her house, the organisation claimed not to have received the papers.
Councillor Jim Torrance, who learned of the eviction, went straight to her home, arriving at 2pm he described the woman as “frozen”. She had been “kicked out” at ten o’clock that morning.
“She was frozen, absolutely stiff outside the house, she was bewildered” he told Newsnet Scotland.
“I went straight to GHA office to try to get her keys back, they had changed the locks on her doors”.
He added: “The last thing we should be doing to these people is throwing them out in the street, six weeks before Christmas.”
The councillor claimed he was initially told the eviction was nothing to do with the Bedroom Tax but on pressing GHA it emerged that a significant amount of her arrears, 32%, was indeed down to housing benefit cuts.
Despite Councillor Torrance pleading on the woman’s behalf, the Housing Association refused to allow her back into her home. It also emerged that the woman’s medication and clothing had been locked in the house at the time of the eviction and she was forced to wait hours in the cold until the police had returned before she was able to retrieve it.
Newsnet Scotland was also told that three police officers had attended the eviction. The woman spent the night in a hotel which has no food facilities after GHA refused to let her back into her home pending another court hearing in December.
The woman is a young widow with a teenage son whose husband died seven years ago.
According to Councillor Torrance, she was managing rent arrears prior to the new legislation coming in, but a new system coupled with cuts to her housing benefit led to her arrears climbing back up. Ms Shearer had been on job seekers allowance but was transferred to employment support, during the change-over her payments didn’t go to GHA properly.
She will now have to wait until December 4th when a new hearing can be held into her case, before she can return to her home. However Newsnet Scotland understands that GHA has agreed to meet with the woman today where she will be accompanied by someone from Govan Law Centre.
The eviction follows rising tensions over the non-appearance of ten Scottish Labour MPs at a crucial vote aimed at scrapping the Bedroom Tax. In total forty seven Labour MPs failed to turn up for the vote in the House of Commons which was won by the coalition by only 26 votes.
An anti-Bedroom tax campaign group has announced plans for a peaceful protest outside the offices of one of the Scottish Labour MPs, Anas Sarwar. The gathering is scheduled to take place Friday at 3pm at 9 Scotland Street, Glasgow.