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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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Whiteford Leads Bedroom Tax Debate in Commons

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

BEDROOM TAX CONFUSION CAUSING ANXIETY FOR THOUSANDS

Ahead of a Westminster debate on the Bedroom tax today (Tuesday) Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has called on the UK Government to rethink its plans after comments from the Work and Pensions Secretary betrayed his deep unease with the devastating impact of the policy.

Last Thursday, Iain Duncan Smith said that he had instructed his officials to “look again” at how the benefit cut would affect disabled people, after the Chief Executives of seven charities wrote an open letter to Mr Duncan Smith and George Osborne outlining their concerns. However, within hours IDS’s own department had ruled out any changes.

Figures released over the weekend by the Scottish Government estimated that eight out of ten households set to be affected by this benefit cut in Scotland are occupied by a person with a disability.

The SNP have now demanded that Iain Duncan Smith get a grip on his department and order them to review the policy as he had wanted.

Commenting ahead of the debate – led jointly by the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party - SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson and local MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford said:

"We know that over 80% of Scotland’s MPs at Westminster are totally opposed to this iniquitous measure. On Wednesday we have an opportunity to reflect the deep and genuine worry about the Bedroom tax. We know that about 100,000 households are going to be hit by this policy and we know from our mailbags and surgeries that there is huge concern about how this new tax is going to hit the most vulnerable in our communities.

"Now we see the confusion and panic at the Department for Work and Pensions. Last week the Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith ordered his officials to 'look again' at how this measure will affect the disabled following an approach by the Chief Executives of seven charities concerned about it. Now we are told there will be 'no u-turns' and it is full steam ahead for implementation in full.

“We know that many elderly people are also worried about what this benefit cut really means for them. There is widespread alarm about the way this Government’s incompetence now extends to communicating how this new measure is actually going to work.

“Iain Duncan Smith is clearly concerned about the impact of this policy – yet he appears to have been silenced by his own department. It’s time for Mr Duncan Smith to get a grip of his own department – and look again at this policy as he wanted. When they do, the devastating impact on some of the most vulnerable people in our society will become quite clear.

"We are listening. We are listening to the charities and civic bodies. We are listening to individuals who are shocked at the confusion and shambles and we are listening to those who understand that the new Bedroom Tax will hit the vulnerable, the disabled and those in greatest need of support. Iain Duncan smith is not listening. He needs to come to the House of Commons urgently and tell us all what he is doing to take account of all of these concerns.”

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