‘Galling’ £56.9 million spent to mitigate bedroom tax in Scotland

Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville. Picture: John Devlin
Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville. Picture: John Devlin
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More than 100,000 grants have been paid out by the scheme used to mitigate Westminster’s so-called bedroom tax in Scotland, new figures show.

Between April and September this year, councils made 100,635 awards via the Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) scheme, totalling some £56.9 million.

These included “a sizeable number of cases” when people were affected by the removal of the spare room subsidy - dubbed the “bedroom tax” by opponents - the Scottish Government report containing the figures said.

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Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said the amount of cash spent on this was “galling”.

She said making the payments was the “right thing to do”, with more than 70,000 households receiving help to stay in their homes as a result.

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By the end of September this year, councils has spent 93% of the £60.9 million the Scottish Government budgeted for DHPs for 2018-19.

Ms Somerville said: “These figures provide further evidence of the cost to Scottish ministers of protecting people from the very worst impacts of UK Government welfare reform.”

She added: “We are providing the necessary funding in this area because it’s the right thing to do, providing a lifeline for families and individuals already struggling to make ends meet.

“However, it is galling that we are spending so much on mitigating the worst effects of UK Government cuts and to support those on low incomes - £125 million in total this year alone - £20 million more than last year.

“We would much rather be spending those resources lifting people properly out of poverty rather than simply helping them keep their heads above the water.”