Alex Salmond urged to act on bedroom tax

First Minister Alex Salmond. Picture: TSPL

First Minister Alex Salmond. Picture: TSPL

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First Minister Alex Salmond is being urged to agree more money for councils to help offset the financial impact of the so-called bedroom tax.

• Scottish Trade Union Congress urges immediate action on bedroom tax in Scotland

• STUC’s Grahame Smith urges more funding for local authorities in order toincrease in Discretionary Housing Payments to offset bedroom tax

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) said immediate action is needed to prevent rising debt levels.

The call came on the eve of a conference on the controversial housing benefit reform.

STUC general secretary Grahame Smith said: “In my correspondence with the First Minister, I have made it clear that STUC recognises the severe resource constraints faced by local authorities and the Scottish Government itself.

“However the so-called bedroom tax presents such a threat to individuals, housing providers and the very fabric of our communities that immediate action is needed to prevent rising debt levels.

“It is within the power of the Scottish Government to increase funding to Scottish local authorities to enable far greater and more proactive use of Discretionary Housing Payments and we see this as a necessary measure given the widespread suffering and anxiety spreading through Scottish communities.”

The “bedroom tax” refers to the UK Government’s under-occupancy policy, which reduces housing benefit if there are deemed to be too many bedrooms for the occupants.

Discretionary housing payments can be granted if people are struggling to pay their rent.

The STUC argues that councils are not making full use of their ability to top up the funds by 150%, noting nationwide financial constraints.

It calls for the Scottish Government to increase funds to councils so they can make better use of the payments.

The STUC is hosting a conference in Edinburgh tomorrow, featuring activists and politicians.

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