Scottish Labour has called on the SNP government to introduce emergency legislation to prevent tenants from being evicted due to the bedroom tax and to provide funding to councils and housing associations to help them cope with the loss of income as a result of the changes coming into effect on Monday. This was rejected by Nicola Sturgeon.
Repeated calls for the SNP government to work with Labour to provide protection for all social housing tenants across Scotland have been ignored. No financial provision has been made available to Scottish housing associations to help mitigate the impact of the bedroom tax and councils are being left to pick up the vast majority of the costs. Scottish Labour has previously sought to amend the Local Government Finance Order to provide financial support for councils and housing associations. This was voted down by the SNP.
Scottish Labour’s Jackie Baillie MSP, said:
“Most of us can agree that the Bedroom Tax is wrong. But it is coming into effect on Monday and so far, tens of thousands of households which will be affected have received no guidance or support from the SNP government.
“Housing associations will also feel the effects of this change, but no support has been put in place. We also know that despite the rhetoric, SNP councils have not actually abandoned evictions. The SNP’s Dundee councillor Jimmy Black confirmed to Parliament yesterday that his council would evict someone who fails to pay and who doesn’t co-operate with collections, or someone who turns down an offer to move to a smaller property.
“We can’t have a postcode lottery across Scotland. This is too big to be left to individual councils to deal with. The SNP government needs to introduce legislation to give all social tenants protection from eviction where arrears amass due to income lost through the bedroom tax. But importantly, councils and housing associations, stretched to the limits now, can’t be left to make up the financial shortfall. We need to support them with additional resources.
“If need be, we said that Parliament should be recalled from the Easter recess to consider and pass emergency legislation. Scottish Labour would have worked with the SNP to find resources to help plug the financial gap that the Bedroom Tax will cause and to ensure speedy passage of any new legislation. It is regrettable that Nicola Sturgeon decided to play politics and not take action to protect our most vulnerable.
“This issue is so serious, it is above party politics. Our most vulnerable need us to act to stop the horrendous impact of the Tory Bedroom Tax. Labour stood ready to make this happen. The SNP government has the power to act now. They have refused to act. Telling people to wait until after 2016 for something to be done is simply unacceptable.”