By Martin Kelly
SNP Work and Pensions Spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP has written to Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith urging him to scrap the bedroom tax in its entirety, following last-minute amendments to the policy.
After facing months of criticism from charities and others, Iain Duncan Smith said approved foster carers, children with disabilities and adult children in the Armed Forces will be exempt from the bedroom tax and allowed an additional room.
However the SNP has pointed out that many of the most disadvantaged people in Scotland will still be blighted by the policy.
Commenting Dr Whiteford claimed the last minute changes demonstrated just how weak the controversial policy was.
Dr Whiteford said:
“The most disadvantaged people in Scotland, including single parents and disabled adults, will still be deeply affected, despite over 90 per cent of Scotland’s MPs voting against this iniquitous measure – which is why welfare policy should be decided in Scotland, which 64% of the Scottish people support, requiring the powers of independence.
The Bedroom Tax is set to have a disproportionate effect in Scotland due to the application of the size criteria to local authority owned temporary housing.
In Scotland over 50% of homeless temporary accommodation is local authority owned, compared to the rest of the UK where the bulk of temporary accommodation for homelessness provision is leased from the private sector, a problem which was recognised by Coalition Pensions Minister Steve Webb.
The SNP MP added: “Iain Duncan Smith has recognised there are major problems, so he should go one step further and scrap this unworkable and unfair piece of legislation. To ignore the plight of the many other people in society who will face the brunt of the bedroom tax is wrong and shambolic.”
The Labour described the announcement By Mr Duncan Smith as “rushed” and complained that it did not address concerns over households with a disabled person and the position of reservists.
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne said: “We have another rushed U-turn which offers nothing more and no protection for disabled children,”
Labour has already accepted that a Bedroom Tax is necessary and that the party plan to cut housing benefit costs, but have insisted they will restrict the benefit cuts to people who decline to move to smaller accommodation. However critics have pointed out that Labour have yet to provide detail relating to how far people may be expected to move, into which type of areas and whether vulnerable householders living close to family or carers will be exempt.