The Scottish Anti Bedroom Tax Federation is delighted with today’s news that Westminster is devolving the power to lift the cap on Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) allowing the Scottish Government to fully mitigate the bedroom tax in Scotland. We demand that Westminster now do this urgently.
After all of the pressure we put on the Scottish Government to find the money to mitigate the effects of this vile tax, on the 5th of February this year, Finance minister John Swinney finally announced that the Scottish Government will cover the cost of the bedroom tax for 2014/15 in the budget. This was hailed as a massive victory for bedroom tax victims and campaigners across Scotland.
The cap on DHP however was stopping this mitigation getting to tenants. When this cap is lifted the bedroom tax will finally be buried for this year. The Scottish Government must now look at ways on how to refund tenants for the years 2013/14 for the money paid to the bedroom tax.
The Scottish Anti Bedroom Tax Federation also demand that local councils no longer means test bedroom tax victims and automatically grant DHP to every tenant affected as the money is there to cover the cost of it.
Gail Morrow, Secretary of the Scottish Anti Bedroom Tax Federation said: “The Scottish Anti Bedroom Tax Federation welcomes this announcement from Westminster and demands that everything is put in place as soon as possible and that there are no further hold ups. We would like to see clear best practice guidelines that will be followed by not only every local authority but housing associations when it comes to people affected by the bedroom tax applying for DHP. There is now no reason for any type of disparity between areas and as we have seen in certain councils already, the DHP application can be as simple as a signature. This needs to be the method used for everyone.
This is a huge victory for all of our campaign groups who have worked tirelessly. Nicola Sturgeon said today that Westminster took too long to reply to the January request for the removal of the DHP cap but it must be remembered that a year ago the Scottish Government said that today was an impossibility. If it hadn’t been for the constant battling by all of the bedroom tax campaign groups the bedroom tax would still be impacting the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.
We will continue fighting to see all bedroom tax arrears that have accrued over the last year quashed and all monies refunded to those who went without necessities in order to pay out of fear and harassment.”
Karen Hendry, Co Vice Chair of the Federation said: “At long last westminster have decided to do what has been asked of them by the scottish government and have turned! Where this is good news for the scottish government and scottish victims of bedroom tax it still doesnt help people in england and wales who are still suffering through this vile toxic policy. This may be seen by some as politics at its finest as the debate around independence and more devolved powers and seen by some as a sweetener in the run up to the referendum. now the scottish government need to get this money released to the councils instead of people still being chased for bedroom tax due to slow administrations in getting it to housing associations people are still being hounded its not good enough and should be sorted as soon as possible. The fight goes on until it goes completely dead in the united kingdom”
Garry Maclachlan from the Federation affiliated group – Bin the Bedroom Tax Inverclyde, said: “Finally the bedroom tax is being buried in Scotland. All of our campaigning and pressure has brought this callous Tory tax to it’s knees and our victory will now take the horror of paying the bedroom tax away from victims due to this cap on DHP being lifted.
We must continue to give solidarity to our brothers and sisters south of the border in their struggle for victory. Let us remain united, a tenant facing the threat of eviction in Leeds is as bad as one facing eviction in Inverclyde. Let’s also continue to fight against austerity and cuts wherever and whenever they raise their ugly heads. Stop the Westminster government forcing poor and disabled people to pay for the mistakes of the millionaire bankers.”