Scottish Housing Minister says landlords should do all they can to protect tenants from bedroom tax, and council in England follows suit.
Margaret Burgess has advised that all Scottish councils follow the example of Dundee Council, which is protecting tenants who cannot make up the shortfall in rent caused by the bedroom tax.
The Scottish Government has openly opposed the housing benefit cut that will come in to force in April, and have called for the UK Government’s scheme to be scrapped.
Dundee Council has made a committment not to evict any tenant due to increased payments from bedroom tax, if they are assessed as genuinely doing all that can be reasonably expected to in order to avoid falling into
Ms Burgess also made landlords aware of a loop hole to avoid bedroom tax, as in certain circumstances it may be possible to reclassify rooms so they are not considered bedrooms. For example, using an extra room to store equipment related to a disability and therefore not as a bedroom.
The same move has been done in England, and Brighton & Hove City Council is the first local authority in the country to take a similar stance and promised that none of its social tenants will be evicted if they cannot afford to pay the bedroom tax.
She said steps would be taken to ensure that tenants don't take advantage of the proposals, and that those pushed into arrears by the bedroom tax were doing everything they could to pay their rent.
Councillor Liz Wakefield said:
The so-called 'spare room subsidy' is yet more immoral and harmful legislation from this morality-free coalition government. We cannot throw people out onto the streets just because they're unable to pay it.
I will therefore be bringing proposals that seek to ensure no household will be evicted from a Brighton and Hove City Council owned home as a result of ‘spare room subsidy' rent arrears.
Mrs Burgess said:
I have made the Scottish Government's opposition to the bedroom tax absolutely clear. Indeed, I put the case for it to be scrapped in the strongest terms to Lord Freud when we met in London.
This will undoubtedly be leaving tenants, some of whom could lose a quarter of their housing benefit in April, seriously worried.
That is why we have made an extra £2.5 million available to social landlords to ensure people affected by housing benefits changes have the advice and support they need. That is on top of the £5.4 million we have already provided to advice services to help those affected by benefit reforms.
But we simply cannot mitigate all the negative impacts of welfare reform or the bedroom tax.