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14/03/14 15:28

‘Bedroom Tax’ budget call

Deputy First Minister calls for lift to cap .

The Westminster cap stopping the Scottish Government from helping people with the ‘Bedroom Tax’ should be lifted, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said today.

Ms Sturgeon again set out the Scottish Government’s opposition to the ‘Bedroom Tax’ and urged George Osborne to address the issue in next week’s budget statement.

Housing help for people on benefits – known as Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) – is reserved to Westminster and administered by local authorities in Scotland. At the end of December 2013, over 53,000 households in Scotland had received help from DHPs in this financial year. This could not have been achieved without £20 million investment from the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Government spent up to the legal limit in order to mitigate the effects of the ‘Bedroom Tax’. If the legal cap on DHPs is removed, a total of £50 million could be invested to help the 72,000 households in Scotland who are suffering from the effects of the ‘Bedroom Tax’.

Ms Sturgeon said:

“Next week’s budget statement is the ideal opportunity to address this issue.

“We have already committed the money to be able to help every household in Scotland affected by the ‘Bedroom Tax’ – we just need the legal cap lifted so we can use it.

“The DHP scheme is the only legal way – under the powers that Scotland currently has – to provide regular financial payments directly to people on housing benefit.

“If the cap is not lifted we have already confirmed that we will try and find other ways to help – but funding DHPs is not only the best way to help people, it’s also the most straight forward.

“We have made a perfectly reasonable request to Westminster to remove the cap – it will cost nothing to the UK Government, it will provide vital assistance to thousands of Scottish households and i hope for a positive response from the UK Government next week.

“But the only way to get rid of it for good is through the powers of an independent Scottish Parliament.”