MSP encourages tenants to access ‘bedroom tax’ help

Local SNP MSP Adam Ingram is encouraging tenants who are affected by the so-called ‘Bedroom Tax’ to apply for financial support.

Households who have lost out on housing benefit through the ‘Bedroom Tax’ can access compensation through Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP).

DHPs provide financial support for housing costs to people on housing benefits. DHPs are currently reserved to Westminster and administered by local authorities in Scotland, with a statutory cap on how much local authorities are able to spend.

The UK Government confirmed on Friday (2 May 2014) it will now transfer the power to lift the cap to the Scottish Government, meaning a total of £50 million can be invested in this financial year, to help the 72,000 Scottish households who are suffering from the effects of the tax.

Mr Ingram said: “Local authorities need to review their DHP procedures to ensure that there are no unnecessary barriers to tenants applying for a DHP. The point about encouraging and enabling tenants to apply for DHPs is extremely important.

“What the Scottish Government is able to do at this time is mitigate the impact of the bedroom tax - they are not yet able to legally abolish it. That means tenants are still legally responsible for the rent due as a result of the reduction in their housing benefit.

“So it is important to send a very clear message to social tenants. If you are affected by the bedroom tax, help is available. But you must apply for this help. You must engage with your landlord and apply for a DHP as soon as possible to enable you to pay the shortfall in your rent. And you should do so even if you have been refused a DHP in the past.

“As a result of Scottish Government action, there will be no need for anyone to fall into rent arrears or face eviction as a result of the bedroom tax.

“There can surely be no better or stronger illustration of the need for the Scottish Parliament to have powers over welfare than the scandal of the bedroom tax.

“With full powers the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament will be able to make the right decisions for the people of Scotland and the only way we can ensure this is with a Yes vote in September.”