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LABOUR MUST STOP SUPPORTING THE BEDROOM TAX

Introduced in April 2013 by the, then, Tory/Lib Dem UK Coalition Government, the Under Occupation Penalty or ‘Bedroom Tax’ as it was soon called, cut housing benefit by 14% for single or couple tenancies renting council or housing association properties with two bedrooms. The reduction was 25% if they had more than two.


The impact of this ‘out of the blue’ tax was, as housing and disability charities made clear, disproportionately severe on low income families, particularly those with disabilities. In 2016 the policy was extended to pensioners.


A similar policy had been enacted by the previous Labour Government on private sector tenants.


Of course, most people subject to the bedroom tax had no possibility of transferring to a smaller home, even if appropriate to their needs. There are simply not enough single bedroom properties because demand prior to the bedroom tax was so low, few were built. Thus, people subject to this sudden cut in income were unable to do much about it and faced a reduction in already low incomes and impoverishment.


Many Scots believe the bedroom tax was abolished. However, the SNP Government was not devolved the powers to do so. Instead, Scottish Ministers pay the bedroom tax using discretionary housing payments on behalf of impacted tenants.


In the four years to April 2023, the SNP Government provided £10,310,175 to support 1,447 tenancies in North Ayrshire.

In England under the Tories and in Wales under Labour, no such support is provided.


University of Newcastle research found that the bedroom tax imposed in the rest of the UK had:


“Increased poverty and had broad-ranging adverse effects on health, wellbeing and relationships.


“There are worries about potential relocation, an inability to provide their children with healthy food, inadequately heated homes and spiralling rent arrears.”


UK Tory Ministers hoped to ‘persuade’ 30% of tenants to move to non-existent smaller homes their government refuses to build. It hasn’t happened, and would have increased hardship for Scottish tenants had the SNP Government not stepped in.


The Labour Party once opposed the bedroom tax. Now, under Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership they have decided NOT to abolish it if they win the next UK election.


This latest betrayal of Labour’s own 2019 manifesto comes on top of a bewildering array of u-turns in every area of policy from the NHS, where they will "engage" more with private providers to reversing Brexit.


Labour will no longer abolish Universal Credit, the House of Lords, tuition fees in England - introduced by Labour and abolished in Scotland by the SNP - raise income tax for the highest earners, tax social media tech giants, introduce rent controls or invest £28 billion a year in ‘greening’ the economy, etc.


Not everyone shares the SNP’s vision of an independent, equal, just and prosperous Scotland. However, we are unshakeable. Sadly, it seems that, desperate to win the next UK election at any price, no Labour policy or idea is sacred. They’ll sell their soul to win, even if only as a pale imitation of the Tories.


ENDS



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