Another Tory bedroom tax myth shattered
The SNP has today said that “another Tory bedroom tax myth has been shattered” after new figures revealed that the soaring housing benefit bill the Tories talked about does not exist in Scotland.
The Tories have repeatedly claimed that the Bedroom Tax is necessary to rein in the soaring housing benefit bill, but figures revealed in a Parliamentary Answer show that housing benefit is rising two and a half times faster across the UK than in Scotland.
SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing, who obtained the figures in a parliamentary answer from Housing and Welfare Minister Margaret Burgess, said these figures fly in the face of Westminster's claims that the rise in housing benefit justifies the implementation of the bedroom tax in Scotland.
This week it was also revealed that there are only 16,000 one-bedroom socially-rented properties likely to be made available this year, compared to 105,000 people who will be hit by the bedroom tax – making it impossible for people to simply move to a smaller property, as the Tories have repeatedly suggested.
In the answer Ms Burgess also confirms that spending on social protection in Scotland is currently lower than across the UK – meaning it would be more affordable in an independent Scotland.
Commenting, Ms Ewing – who sits on the Welfare Reform Committee - said:
"The Tories have repeatedly told us that we need the Bedroom Tax to get the soaring housing benefit bill under control, but these figures show us that, as far as Scotland is concerned, this is complete nonsense. Another Tory myth has been shattered.
“Housing benefit is actually rising two and a half times faster across the UK than in Scotland.
“Let’s remember that 90% of Scottish MPs voted against this iniquitous Bedroom Tax – but Westminster is imposing this tax on Scotland anyway.
“I cannot think of a clearer example of how policies set in Westminster do not take into account the needs of the people of Scotland. Vulnerable Scots are effectively paying the price for soaring rents in the South East of England.
"Scotland can more than afford our own national social protection system - our expenditure in this area was equivalent to 14.4% of GDP which was lower than the UK figure of 15.9%.
"Westminster isn't working and it is clear the only way to have integrated policies in Scotland a Yes vote on September 18th, 2014 to devolve responsibility for housing benefit and the entire social security system to the Scottish Parliament."
For previous coverage see: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/100000-scots-set-fall-bedroom-1873507
Annabelle Ewing (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Scottish National Party): To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on the affordability of housing benefit in an independent Scotland.
(S4W-14238) Ms Margaret Burgess MSP:
The Scottish Government’s view is that housing benefit would be affordable in an independent Scotland and would be more affordable than the housing benefit expenditure for Great Britain. Over the decade from 2001-02 to 2011-12, in inflation-adjusted terms, the growth of housing benefit was significantly lower in Scotland (at 21%) than in Great Britain as a whole (53%).
Housing benefit in an independent Scotland would form part of a national social protection system. Scotland’s Balance Sheet, published on 14th April 2013, shows that in 2011-12, social protection expenditure was equivalent to 14.4% of GDP. This is lower than the equivalent UK figure of 15.9%. In addition, spending on social protection in Scotland, as a share of the economy, has been lower than in the UK for the last five years, and is also lower than in the majority of other EU-15 countries.
In an independent Scotland a social protection system could be implemented which is appropriate to the needs of the Scottish people, achieving greater efficiency and improving affordability.