Initial figures show that 40% of working age housing benefit claimants in Na h-Eileanan an Iar will be hit by the “bedroom tax” which comes into force in April.
Parliamentarians for Na h-Eileanan an Iar Angus MacNeil MP and Alasdair Allan MSP are critical of the Westminster government’s handling of welfare reform.
Analysts say these tenants will be hit in their pockets by between £27 and £65 per week. A single person or couple in a two bedroom house will see their benefit reduced by 14% and if they have 2 spare rooms or more by 25%
Mr MacNeil said:
“Initial figures show that 40% of those of working age who receive housing benefit and live in social housing will be affected by this unfair and punitive levy.
“This punitive tax is a hammer to crack a nut for a problem which existed in a small area of the south east. People will be affected if their personal living circumstances change, adding greater financial pressure on those who can least afford it.
“The Tory/Lib Westminster government is failing the people of Scotland and there is no promise from Labour to reverse this decision.
“Further, this “bedroom tax” is placing additional pressure on Hebridean Housing Partnership, I know they are concerned about the implications for some of the poorest and most vulnerable in our community and they are working hard in assisting tenants prepare for these changes.
“I had never seen such arrogance since the introduction of the Poll Tax. But that’s before I saw the London government’s advice to those who may find themselves in genuine hardship. Their top 5 tips include “Move or take in a lodger”. This is unhelpful, disrespectful and downright arrogant and demonstrates this government’s sheer contempt for the people of Na h-Eileanan an Iar.”
“We also know that due to their opposition to independence, and while they may moan about the policy Labour support the right of the Tories and Liberals to do this. The huge issue here is no one knows whether their life circumstances may change and they may be affected by this Westminster policy.”
Alasdair Allan MSP said:
“This will cause undue hardship to countless families across the county and the picture is probably much worse as private rentals are not included in these figures.
“The inequity and injustice doesn’t stop there. Analysis shows that remote and rural areas are going to be hit harder with a 21% higher proportion of households caught out, and little realistic option of finding smaller houses to rent locally.
“This is a scandal in itself and then we go onto discover that those with disabilities are to be among the hardest hit. There is something morally wrong when a Government preys on our most vulnerable people to repair the damage done to the UK economy by their failed austerity measures.
“This is further evidence that Westminster is not working for Scotland. It’s time we made our own decisions about benefits in Scotland instead of put up with outrageous policies like this. In 2014 we have an opportunity to change things and we should take it.”