20 February 2013
Lesley Brennan, Councillor for East End, has declared the Westminster Government's proposed change to housing benefit rules, commonly referred to as the "bedroom tax", as “wicked”.
This rule change refers to working age tenants who are deemed to be under-occupying.
Tenants who have one bedroom more than is specified in the rules will lose 14% of their housing benefit.
Dundee City Council estimates this is on average approximately £11 per week.
Tenants who have two or more bedrooms than they are deemed to be entitled to, they will lose 25%.
This is estimated as £21 per week.
Councillor Brennan said, “These changes to housing benefit are intended to urge households, who are deemed to be living in a property that is too large for their needs, to move.
“I have helped tenants wishing to move to smaller properties sign up to the Dundee House Exchange website.
“Currently, there are 141 one-bedroomed properties listed in the City.”
“However, there are too few smaller properties and is little scope for exemptions.”
“Constituents contacting me are very worried about it.
“Several of these families are already paying large proportions of their incomes to the Council’s Social Work Department due to their care needs and cannot afford a further reduction in their income.
“I am concerned that these families may fall into debt through no fault of their own.
“This rule change has not been thought through.”
She continued, “ The Govan Law Centre is petitioning the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to amend Section 16 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 to prevent social landlords from using rent arrears caused by under occupation housing benefit deductions in eviction actions, and instead requiring such under occupation arrears to be pursued as an ordinary debt.
“The purpose of this change is to ensure that tenants will not be evicted due to the bedroom room tax.
“I recognise that this amendment is not a perfect solution but it may help tenants.
“Also, legal experts think there is scope for local authorities to define what is and is not a bedroom because a bedroom is not defined legally.”
“To ensure there is no postcode lottery with respect to the bedroom tax, I think the Scottish Government ought to set out clear guidance for local authorities and other registered housing providers.
“Therefore, I shall write to the Housing Convenor, Councillor Jimmy Black, and ask him to call on his SNP colleagues at Holyrood to amend Section 16 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 and to provide best practice guidelines for all housing providers.”
2. 100,000 Scots could cash in on bedroom loophole. The Herald, 16 Feb 2014, http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/100000-scots-to-cash-in-on-bedroom-tax-loophole.20243112
3. OPINION OF SENIOR COUNSEL FOR GLASGOW ADVICE AGENCY HOUSING BENEFIT AMENDMENTS http://www.govanlc.com/GAAopinion.pdf
4. Dundee House Exchange