Bedroom tax help too late for some in Falkirk

The Scottish Government has now stepped in to offset the impact of the unpopular bedroom tax
The Scottish Government has now stepped in to offset the impact of the unpopular bedroom tax

The Scottish Government’s recent moves to write off the bedroom tax have come too late for those already forced to move house.

During a historic meeting with the UK Parliament’s Scottish Affairs select committee in Falkirk Town Hall on Monday, making it’s first visit to the town, Councillor Gerry Goldie spoke up for the families who had no way back to their original homes.

Councillor Goldie, council housing spokesman, said: “Those people who have moved, what do you tell them? If you paid it you can get that money back, but what if someone has been forced to move to another part of Falkirk because of this, you cannot say they will be allowed to move back.”

Select committee members Jim McGovern, Mick Crockart, Ian Davidson and Graeme Morrice heard evidence about the impact the controversial legislation, introduced last April, was having on residents in the Falkirk area.

Stating the case against the tax alongside Councillor Goldie were council leader Craig Martin, health and social services spokesperson Linda Gow, council chief executive Mary Pitcaithly, Link Housing’s Rhona Penman and Grangemouth CAB’s Bill Palombo.

Councillor Gow said: “The Scottish Government needs to explain why they offer help in this way in the first place and they should explain it to the people who have moved out of their homes.”

Mr Davidson said: “From the beginning the Scottish Government has had the powers to completely mitigate the bedroom tax, it’s just a matter of will.”

Councillor Martin revealed the council currently had £476,000 rent arrears, while the savings produced by the bedroom tax only totalled £16,700.

He said: “The bedroom tax is not actually working at a local or national level.”

Part of the UK Government’s recent welfare reforms, the so-called “Bedroom tax” reduces benefits of people deemed to have a spare bedroom.

Last week ministers called for legal limits imposed by the UK Government on the money Holyrood can give to mitigate the effects of the bedroom tax to be lifted.

While the bedroom tax cannot be abolished by the Scottish Government, ministers do have the power and funds to completely write it off.