The UK Government has been asked to clarify how it plans to review the impact of the bedroom tax on Scottish households, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.
Initial data collected by the Scottish Government and COSLA show that in the first two months since the introduction of the bedroom tax, more than 22,000 applications for emergency funding have been made in the form of Discretionary Housing Payments – a four-fold increase compared to the same period last year.
Following a meeting in Edinburgh on Tuesday with the UK Government’s welfare reform minister Lord Freud and COSLA, Ms Sturgeon said that it was “absolutely imperative” that the DWP review and evaluate the impact of the bedroom tax as a matter of urgency.
Ms Sturgeon said:
“The Scottish Government has made our opposition to the bedroom tax abundantly clear to the UK Government – and I did this again today in our meeting with Lord Freud.
“This new data shows a drastic increase in the number of people applying for emergency funding to help them deal with the impact of this reform.
“The Scottish Government and COSLA have had little indication from the UK Government about how they intend to review the impact of the bedroom tax to date – even though it is clear that this tax is hitting our most vulnerable citizens, including a high proportion of disabled people, extremely hard in these challenging economic times.
“That is why we have made a commitment to the people of Scotland that we will scrap the bedroom tax following a successful referendum vote next year. Last week we said that this will be done within a year of independence and that we will have the practical arrangements in place to ensure that this happens.
“It is clear that the UK Government’s agenda is completely at odds with the values of the people of Scotland and the aspirations that this Government has for our nation. Only through independence can Scotland have the levers required to create a welfare system that is aligned to Scottish needs.
“In order to scrap the bedroom tax for people in Scotland by 2014, we need the powers of independence.”
The COSLA survey, developed jointly with Scottish Government, was designed to provide the first hard evidence on the actual impacts of the under occupation penalty and the benefit cap.