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03 February 2014
Bedroom tax is “iniquitous and inhumane” – Welfare Reform Committee

Bedroom tax is “iniquitous and inhumane” – Welfare Reform Committee

The UK Government should abolish the so-called bedroom tax or give the Scottish Parliament the powers to do so, according to a Holyrood committee.

The Welfare Reform Committee has also concluded that the cost to tenants is “iniquitous and inhumane and may well breach their human rights”.

The committee published an interim report on the matter, following extensive research into the impact of the under-occupancy charge and wider welfare reforms.

It examines in detail the impact of the charge, the ongoing attempts at mitigating the impact by local authorities and Scottish Government and puts forward abolition as the solution to the “bad law”.

Committee convener Michael McMahon MSP said: “The bedroom tax remains bad law. Treating people’s homes only as bricks and mortar, homes of around 65,000 disabled people and 15,000 homes with children, is simply not acceptable in this day and age.

“Smaller properties just aren’t available because we spent years developing our housing stock to offer homes people could grow their families in, so they could set down roots and establish communities. The reality for many is they cannot pay, and they cannot move.

“And to make the situation even more frustrating, it is entirely possible it is costing the public purse more to implement than it is saving.

“The only conclusion the majority of the committee could come to, when faced with the evidence and research we have seen, is to call for the UK Government to abolish the bedroom tax with immediate effect. And if they won’t do that, to give the Scottish Parliament the powers and resources to do so.”

The report sets out the committee’s belief that the under-occupancy charge, also known as the bedroom tax is “iniquitous and inhumane and may well breach tenants’ human rights”.

Deputy committee convener Jamie Hepburn said the situation is a “farce”, with money taken with one hand from tenants for alleged spare rooms by the DWP.

“Meantime, the other hand is paying out public money to tenants from the Scottish Government and DWP through discretionary housing payments,” he added.

The report also sets out the essential case for the DWP to increase its current level of support and confirm its allocation of funds for DHP for the next two years.

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