The Stranraer Anti Bedroom Tax Federation along with the Scottish Anti Bedroom Federation are delighted with the news that Westminster is devolving the power to lift the cap on Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) allowing the Scottish Government to fully mitigate the bedroom tax in Scotland.
A spokesman for the federation said: ”After all of the pressure we put on the Scottish Government to find the money to mitigate the effects of this vile tax, on the 5th of February this year, Finance minister John Swinney finally announced that the Scottish Government will cover the cost of the bedroom tax for 2014/15 in the budget. This was hailed as a massive victory for bedroom tax victims and campaigners across Scotland and the Anti Bedroom Tax organizations are now calling on Westminster to devolve this as a matter of urgency.”
Gail Morrow, Secretary of the Scottish Federation of Anti Bedroom Tax, said “The cap on DHP however was stopping this mitigation getting to all tenants in Scotland. When this cap is lifted the bedroom tax will finally be buried for this year. The Scottish Government must now look at ways on how to refund tenants for the years 2013/14 for the money paid to the bedroom tax. The Scottish Anti Bedroom Tax Federation also demand that local councils no longer means test bedroom tax victims and automatically grant DHP to every tenant affected as the money is there to cover the cost of it.
“This is a huge victory for all of our campaign groups who have worked tirelessly. Nicola Sturgeon said that Westminster took too long to reply to the January request for the removal of the DHP cap but it must be remembered that a year ago the Scottish Government said that it was an impossibility for the Scottish Government to deal with the Bedroom Tax. If it hadn’t been for the constant battling by all of the bedroom tax campaign groups the bedroom tax would still be impacting the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.
“We will continue fighting to see all bedroom tax arrears that have accrued over the last year quashed and all monies refunded to those who went without necessities in order to pay out of fear and harassment.”
SABTO Activist Willie Scobie said: “At long last Westminster have decided to do what has been asked of them by the Scottish Government and have turned. Too often Labour MP’s did not turn up for votes at Westminster where this vile and callous Bedroom Tax could have been defeated but it now seems Westminster has buckled to the pressure being put on them in Scotland by the constant campaigning of local and National Anti Bedroom Tax Organisations.
“While tenants in Dumfries and Galloway have been receiving DHP to mitigate the effects of the vile Bedroom Tax with the Council conceding to the demands made of them by the Stranraer and Dumfries Anti Bedroom Tax campaign, not everybody has applied for a DHP. On the back of this tremendous victory the Registered Social Landlords must now look at the back payments to all the tenants who paid the Bedroom Tax or who did not apply for DHP.
“The Scottish Government need to get this money released to the Councils instead of tenants still wondering if they have to apply for DHP leaving them with the fear that they could be evicted for rent arrears. These are issues that still surround the vile and hated Bedroom Tax which must be tackled and while the people in Scotland have managed to defeat the Bedroom Tax with the local meetings held, the mass demonstrations up and down the country and the lobbying of the MSP’s at Holyrood, the fact remains that it is not defeated in the rest of the UK.
“We have to continue the campaign until this ill conceived Bedroom Tax is completely dead but we also have to campaign against all the other Welfare Reforms that attack the poor, sick and disabled. These Reforms are as vile and callous as the Bedroom Tax and will inflict misery on vulnerable people in our communities. We need to make sure our MP makes a commitment to oppose these Welfare Reforms and for the Labour Party to include it in its Manifesto that it will repeal them should they come to power in 2015”.
Gail Morrow concluded “While the Scottish Anti Bedroom Tax Federation welcomes this announcement from Westminster, we demand that everything is put in place as soon as possible and that there are no further hold ups. We would like to see clear best practice guidelines that will be followed by not only every local authority but housing associations when it comes to people affected by the bedroom tax applying for DHP. There is now no reason for any type of disparity between areas and as we have seen in certain councils already, the DHP application can be as simple as a signature. This needs to be the method used for everyone.