John joined with SNP, Green and Independent MSPs to sign a joint letter from Kevin Stewart MSP and the STUC against the Bedroom Tax.
The Bedroom Tax – Axe the Tax
We are writing to you on behalf of the undersigned to make a plea on behalf of the thousands of Scots who will be affected by the UK Government’s ‘Bedroom Tax.’ We ask that you, as Chancellor, reconsider the measure in this year’s budget.
This measure, alongside the other damaging cuts to the Welfare Budget, will negatively impact on disabled people and the most vulnerable groups in our society. 80% of those affected by the Bedroom Tax in Scotland are disabled people. Disabled people in our society should be able to live in a dignified manner with the support of our Government – this does not appear to be the case with the statistics being very clear about whom the bedroom tax will affect.
The Bedroom Tax is not only a direct attack on disabled people, but it has been proven to be a more costly measure than the existing Housing Benefit regulations.
Lord Freud suggested that those who currently under-occupy their property should move to private sector accommodation – which is more expensive to the tax payer.
Many clients of supported accommodation providers are refusing to accept offers of 2 bedroom + houses due to the bedroom tax penalties – there is then a backlog from those in institutionalised care, who are ready to move in to supported accommodation – who can’t. This is at a cost to the National Health Service of around £600 per day for those who cannot move out of their hospital bed.
This policy will no doubt lead to rent arrears, which will cost Local Government budgets in the short term, but will be passed on to the rent payer through increased rents in the social housing sector. The knock on effect of this measure is quite simply appalling and more people in our country will be affected than just those under-occupying properties.
Children in our country are also set to be affected as their parents are forced to move in to smaller accommodation – which might see them sleeping on a couch when they visit a parent for the weekend. Children in care may never find a foster carer as the numbers decrease due to the bedroom tax affecting their benefits. Our children deserve better – as do their parents and carers.
While people of Pension Credit Qualifying Age are not currently subject to the under occupancy rule, the introduction of Universal Credit will have implications for ‘mixed-age couples’ where one member is of Pension Credit Qualifying Age and one member is not of Qualifying Age. This will put older people with younger partners in a position where they would be better off financially from living alone and deny those who live with a younger partner the support that other older people receive.
You have the best opportunity to safeguard the lives of disabled people, single parents, carers, children and many more who will be affected by the harsh policy of your Government. You can axe the tax and let people live in their homes for the future as they bring up children and live a dignified life.
We urge you to use your budget statement on March 20th to change the Government’s policy on this costly matter.
We look forward to your response,