Tenants who are affected by the ‘Bedroom Tax’ are being encouraged to apply for financial support.
Speaking in a statement to Parliament today, the Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has asked households who have lost out on housing benefit through the ‘Bedroom Tax’ to access compensation through Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP).
DHPs provide financial support for housing costs to people on housing benefits. DHPs are currently reserved to Westminster and administered by local authorities in Scotland, with a statutory cap on how much local authorities are able to spend.
The UK Government confirmed on Friday (2 May 2014) it will now transfer the power to lift the cap to the Scottish Government, meaning a total of £50 million can be invested in this financial year, to help the 72,000 Scottish households who are suffering from the effects of ‘Bedroom Tax’.
The Deputy First Minister also confirmed she will meet with Scotland Office Minister David Mundell this week to discuss the transfer of powers and to ensure the cap is removed as quickly as possible.
Ms Sturgeon said:
“I want today to encourage local authorities to review their DHP procedures to ensure that there are no unnecessary barriers to tenants applying for a DHP. The point about encouraging and enabling tenants to apply for DHPs is an important one.
“What the Scottish Government is able to do is mitigate the impact of the bedroom tax. Unfortunately, we are not yet able to legally abolish it. That means tenants are still legally responsible for the rent due as a result of the reduction in their housing benefit.
“So it is important to send a very clear message to social tenants today. If you are affected by the bedroom tax, help is available. But you must apply for this help. You must engage with your landlord and apply for a DHP as soon as possible to enable you to pay the shortfall in your rent. And you should do so even if you have been refused a DHP in the past.
“Let me be clear: as a result of Scottish Government action, there will be no need for anyone to fall into rent arrears or face eviction as a result of the bedroom tax.
“There can surely be no better or stronger illustration of the need for this Parliament to have powers over welfare than the scandal of the bedroom tax. What would make sense is for this Parliament, rather than having to mitigate the bedroom tax, to instead have the power to ensure that we didn’t have a bedroom tax in the first place.
“With full powers over welfare and taxation, this Government and this Parliament will be able to make the right decisions for the people of Scotland on these vitally important matters.”