Wrong answer

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Confirmation from local government body Cosla that the “bedroom tax” is costing the public purse more than it was intended to save (your report, 22 November) should come as no surprise. In some ways, it simply highlights the problems in controlling public expenditure in any area.

A rise in unemployment has caused a fourfold effect on the Exchequer: individuals pay less tax; they need to claim more benefits; the economy loses their service or production, and there is an increased possibility they will have to call on the social services for help.

The result is the need for more public spending.

The dreadful aspects of what the coalition government has called the “spare room subsidy” have been laid bare.

But it does not follow that MSP Jackie Baillie’s bill to effectively make illegal evictions on the grounds of “bedroom tax” arrears is right.

The whole idea is fraught with problems. Many people affected by the policy have actually found the money and paid up, albeit with reluctance. Others in cases of genuine distress have sought help from the discretionary funds.

But there also seems to be a trend towards wilful non-payment – refusing to pay up because of a political objection to the measure.

Arguably, this is a case of people refusing to make the sacrifices others are prepared to make.

If we add to that the link 
between antisocial behaviour and rent arrears, the case for eviction may sometimes be very strong.

Jackie Baillie’s bill may be well-meaning but in many respects is both impractical and unfair.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court

Glenrothes, Fife

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