Bedroom Tax: SNP should stop blaming Westminster and come up with solutions

 

OEarlier today I did an interview on the Bedroom Tax on Good Morning Scotland. I explained that the policy is both unfair, but also unworkable, because of the lack of alternative smaller housing for those affected.

 

In the week beginning the 17th of June there were 23 one bedroom homes available for let in Edinburgh. The lowest number applications for any one property was 45. Several properties attracted between 100 and 200 applications, and four over 200. Even if all those affected by the Bedroom Tax got priority (which they don’t) that would prevent the many single applicants with no house from securing any accommodation at all. Many in this group live in more expensive temporary accommodation or in the private rented sector and, if eligible for Housing Benefit, will be costing the Government more than is saved if those who are allegedly ‘under-occupying’ are moved! 

 

One way the SNP Scottish Government could help is to put more money into new-build housing. But the reality is that starts of council and housing association housing are DOWN by half over the last four years. Completions obviously lag behind starts, so Scottish Government figures below paint a bleak picture for the next couple of years:

 

Sheila Gilmore MP Graph

 

New-build has the additional advantage of creating jobs in construction. But as both the public and private housing markets still slow, we can expect continuing high unemployment among building workers in the next couple of years.

Another option for resolving some of the most acute problems would be for councils like Edinburgh to buy properties on the market where costs are no higher than new build. In many parts of the city such properties are being sold into the private rented sector and often being occupied by people who need and want the security of a low rent council or housing association property. For many, including many in low paid work, this means higher Housing Benefit payments going out.

It is not enough just to blame Westminster. It is time for the Scottish Government to come up with solutions.

Labour-Hame-masthead1

 

Sheila Gilmore is the Labour MP for Edinburgh East.  You can follow Sheila on Twitter: @SheilaGilmoreMP

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4 thoughts on “Bedroom Tax: SNP should stop blaming Westminster and come up with solutions

  1. “It is not enough just to blame Westminster. It is time for the Scottish Government to come up with solutions.”

    I agree – though it is still valid to point out that getting the bedroom tax is a direct consequence of having a UK government that Scotland did not elect: Scotland elects 1 Tory MP out of 59 and gets a Tory government that imposes the bedroom tax.

    I also agree that housebuilding is part of the solution – unfortunately our ability to borrow for capital investment is also restricted by Westminster.

  2. This article would carry a lot more weight if it were not for the reality of Labour’s dreadful record on social housing while they were in office at Holyrood and at Westminster and also for Labour’s collusion with bankers etc. in making British house prices the highest in Europe, leading to rents that most people cannot afford. Then there’s Brown and Darling’s significant roles in making he financial crisis even worse than it should have been and – obviously – that a Holyrood government of whatever party can do very little about the bedroom tax without having full fiscal autonomy….and then there’s the failure of Labour at Westminster to do anything serious to try and stop the bedroom tax. They could have done of they’d really wanted to since many Lib-Dems, a few tories and all of the small parties are deeply unhappy about. I can moan about this SNP governemt as much (in fact more) than most people, but there is such a thing as sheer bitchy hypocrisy. When labour does something real to end the bedroom tax (and the sooner the better) it’ll be fair game to kick the gnats, in the meantime, best not to draw too much attention.

  3. £179million underspend last year by the Scottish Government

    £50million – cost of mittigating Bedroom Tax as estimated by Shelter Scotland.

    No brainer, surely?

    Not to John Swinney!

  4. By your logic: SNP should stop blaming Westminster [for the bedroom tax] and come up with solutions. On this basis you could conceivably replace [the bedroom tax] with ANYTHING ELSE. If Scottish Labour were in power, is that your response, suck it up and just come up with solutions.

    I’m here to tell you. The mother of ALL solutions: VOTE YES. Simple.

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