Council pledge on bedroom tax

The Labour group leader on Dumfries and Galloway Council, Ronnie Nicholson, has confirmed that again this year no-one in the region will lose out as a result of the introduction of the “bedroom tax”.

The news came after a meeting of the council’s welfare reform sub-committee at which the decision was made to continue paying Discretionary Housing Benefit for another year to every victim of the “bedroom tax” in the region.

Councillor Nicholson said: “I’m proud that one of the first moves of the new Labour-led council was to ensure no-one loses out as a result of this hated tax. I’m pleased to confirm that Discretionary Housing payments will be made by the council to all the victims of the tax for a further year.

“We are now looking at extending the payments for the full term of the council. I hope to be able to make an announcement on that in May.

“I want to give thousands of local people the reassurance they need that they will continue to have a roof over their heads.”

The proposal has been welcomed by Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown, who has pledged that the next Labour government will scrap the bedroom tax. Mr Brown said: “I welcome the move by the council to protect local people from the hated bedroom tax.

“The bedroom tax blights the lives of 1780 local households across Dumfries and Galloway. This is a real common sense move by the council because it will actually save the taxpayer money. Without this measure the hard-pressed council tax-payer would be left to pick up the bill for people who become homeless as a result of being evicted.”

Stranraer and North Rhins Councillor Marion McCutcheon highlighted the impact of bedroom tax in her ward, which is one of the most deprived in the region.

Councillor McCutcheon said: “Fears over the bedroom tax are a real issue in areas such as Stranraer where we have a lot of people on low incomes. One of the biggest issues raised with me by tenants who would have to pay this tax if it wasn’t for the council stepping is the fact that there is a shortage of one-bedroom properties. That means even if someone in a two-bedroom housing association property wanted to move to a smaller home to avoid being penalised by the bedroom tax, there is nowhere for them to go.

“That isn’t going to change overnight, so I’m delighted that we have been able to make these payments available that will be a real relief to the many people in Stranraer who otherwise would really struggle to keep a roof over their heads.”

The move has been made possible as a result of extra funding from the Scottish government.