The Bedroom Tax 

Kevin Keenan

2 July 2013

It is very disappointing there was not sufficient business within the Housing Department in June for Councillor discuss at Committee.

Given that all the indicators are were suggesting that the “Bedroom Tax” will have been seriously affecting many of our tenants here in Dundee.   

We should also take into account Dundee City Council has received over 750 applications for Discretionary Housing Payment and very few of these applications have been processed to date.

Welfare Teams across the City are seeing an increase in the number of individuals looking for financial advice and Food Banks are also struggling to meet demand.

We are now 12 weeks in to the “Bedroom Tax” and just find out that arrears are building at a rate of £21k per month totalling £252,000 and growing.

This must be having a very serious impact on the Housing Revenue Account and should it continue, I have no doubt that it will have a detrimental impact on the Department’s ability to function properly (carry out repairs and service its debts.)     

There is a big problem for the Housing Department, yet the SNP Housing Convenor and his Depute look to make political capital by playing petty politics.

The SNP should accept that the Labour Group condemns the Bedroom Tax believing it to be unfair and unjust and we will continue to lobby for change.

However, there is another issue building through the non- payment and that is the affect it will have as it adds £250,000 to the debt of £1.5m that existed towards the end of April 2013. 

The Convener needs to concentrate his efforts within the Housing Department as, with this level of debt, it won’t be long before we hit crisis point.

I would remind people that if they are making a conscious decision not to pay as they believe SNP Administration have a “No Eviction” policy – they should read the small print.

However, will the Convenor be prepared to join Labour’s call on the SNP Government to address the Bedroom Tax for those with medical needs?”

In Scotland, there is estimated to be 100,000 homes affected by the Westminster Government’s Bedroom Tax – 23% of them are individuals with some level of disability, many of whom use what is now designated to be an additional room for the storage of the medical equipment and aids that they need for their day to day life.

I believe the Scottish Government should immediately do something to take care of the Bedroom Tax for this 23% of the population taking them out of the poverty trap by covering the cost of the additional room that is needed for medical purposes. 

The Scottish Government can bring forward Legislation to make this happen.   

It has all the necessary powers at its disposal.    

It doesn’t take Independence to make this happen - they just need to step up to the mark.

The Scottish Government can make the funds available to address the Council Tax for everyone for one year from the additional Business Rate collection.  

The money is there, it’s down to political choice.

So let’s make the joint call – Scotland can help its own from existing resources.

 

 

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