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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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UK Gov Admit Bedroom Tax had Disproportionate Consequences in Scotland

Monday, 11 March 2013

SNP MP Eilidh Whiteford has today (Monday) called the UK government on the disproportionate consequences of the Bedroom Tax legislation in Scotland.

The Bedroom Tax is set to have a devastating impact in Scotland due to the application of the size criteria to local authority owned temporary housing.

In Scotland over 50% of homeless temporary accommodation is local authority owned, compared to the rest of the UK where the bulk of temporary accommodation for homelessness provision is leased from the private sector. Speaking in the House of Commons, Eilidh Whiteford MP asked Minister of State for Pensions, Steve Webb, whether such consequences were an oversight.

Commenting, Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“Amid all the soundbites about spare bedrooms, there has been a failure to acknowledge the underlying shortage in affordable housing across the UK and the backdrop of changing demographics. What makes the Government’s under-occupancy rules fundamentally unworkable is the mismatch between available social housing stock and the needs of tenants and prospective tenants.

“The scale of the problem varies across the UK, but in Scotland, for example, only 26% of homes available for social rent are one-bedroom properties yet 60% of tenants affected by this measure require a one-bedroom home. According to the National Housing Federation, in England there are twice as many people under-occupying two-bedroom homes than the number of one-bedroom properties that became available last year. No matter how we shuffle people around, not enough homes of the right size are available for affordable rent.

“That mismatch is entirely outside the control of tenants, yet they are being punished for a structural problem not of their making.”


The exchange from the House of Commons is below:

Eilidh Whiteford
  • Mr Speaker, half of all the temporary accommodation in Scotland is council owned and its sizes reflect the existing housing stock and a varying range of needs in that sector. The discretionary housing budget in Scotland will not even cover the cost of keeping disabled people in specially adapted homes so in no way is it going to cover the needs of people in temporary accommodation. Will the government look again at this and reconsider what I can only assume is an unintended consequence or an oversight.
Steve Webb
  • Mr Speaker, the honourable lady does raise the important issue of the mismatch between the housing stock and the families who need housing and that is something that has gone unaddressed for decades and is something that we now need to address but we do recognize there may be particular issues in Scotland partly with rurality and partly with the housing stock and we’re certainly happy to continue the conversation with honourable members.

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