£35 million extra will be provided to local Councils to help people worst affected by the under-occupancy deduction from housing benefit – the so called “bedroom tax”. The announcement follows a long campaign by Liberal Democrats including local Rutherglen Liberal Democrat Councillor Robert Brown.
Councillor Brown secured the passing of a motion at the Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference in February this year calling for a review of the bedroom tax.
Robert Brown said:
“I very much welcome this announcement by the Government and am glad to have played my part in bringing it about. A lot of work was done by Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP and Michael Moore MP, our Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland, and I am grateful for their efforts. It really does show the value of having Liberal Democrats in government.
The money includes £10 million transitional payments to all Councils, £5 million for a specific rural fund, and a major increase in the Discretionary Housing Payment Fund of £20 million. It will give Councils a lot more flexibility to help people affected by these housing benefit changes.
There are a lot of people living in overcrowded conditions who need bigger houses so it is right that efforts are made to release larger houses where people don’t need the extra rooms. South Lanarkshire Council have put in place a good platform of incentives to help people move to houses of a size which suits their needs, and this money will be a great help to their efforts.
However I still think the speed and detail of the bedroom tax policy needs to be independently reviewed. There are no smaller houses available for many people to move to, while others need the extra room for disability, caring needs of child access reasons by parents or grandparents. Part of the answer too is building more houses for rent but this will obviously take time.
The extra funds are hugely welcome but I will be continuing to campaign for a full review of the policy.”