Thursday 26 September 2013

Protection from Eviction (Bedroom Tax) (Scotland) Bill proposal and consultation launched

A bill that would protect victims of the bedroom tax has been lodged with the Scottish Parliament by Scottish Labour's social justice spokesperson Jackie Baillie. The bill proposal and consultation paper can be viewed online here

Govan Law Centre (GLC) has assisted in the drafting of the Bill proposal and accompanying documents. The proposed legislation will ensure that anyone who falls into arrears as a result of the bedroom tax will not be evicted from their home. 

The bill has been backed by Govan Law Centre, the Church of Scotland, the STUC, the Poverty Alliance, both the Bedroom Tax Campaigns in Scotland and many others besides. 

Jackie Baillie said: "The bedroom tax is unfair and unworkable, it doesn't make financial sense and is targeting some of the most vulnerable tenants in our communities. David Cameron should end this unjust policy right now. We have an opportunity to make it clear that all victims of the bedroom tax, whether council or housing association tenants, will be protected from eviction from their homes." 

Tommy McMahon, Govan Law Centre's Chairman said: "GLC fully supports Jackie Baillie proposed Bill which would prevent bedroom tax rent arrears being used to evict Scottish secure tenants. It makes no economic sense to evict tenants, disabled people and children for bedroom tax arrears when they cannot downsize to a smaller property in practice, obtain a smaller specially adapted home, or find an extra £50 per month from breadline benefits. The Scottish Parliament has the power to protect tenants from the bedroom tax and it's time to act."

The Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, Convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland said: “At this year’s General Assembly, the Church of Scotland agreed to press the Scottish Government for legislation guaranteeing there would be no evictions for rent arrears accrued simply by failing to make the additional payments caused by the “bedroom tax”.  Whilst we recognise that local authority budgets are being continually squeezed, forcing those who cannot afford these additional payments  to carry the burden for this flawed  policy is not fair.  We urge the UK Government, Scottish Government and local authorities to work together to find a more equitable solution.  I welcome Jackie Baillie’s proposals, but with the reversal of the “bedroom tax” policy, they would not be needed in the first place.”

Peter Kelly of the Poverty Alliance said: "It is hard to underestimate the negative impact that the bedroom tax is having on individuals and communities across Scotland. Not only are people struggling to get by on already reduced incomes, but now many are fearful about being evicted from their homes. In this context we must explore every opportunity to protect individuals from the impact of the Bedroom Tax. We therefore welcome the launch of Jackie Baillie’s Members Bill and would encourage organisations and individuals to respond to the consultation. Every effort must be made to protect individuals and communities from this disastrous policy."

Dave Moxham, Deputy General Secretary of the STUC said: “STUC wants the Bedroom Tax repealed by Westminster and action in Scotland to prevent tenants getting into debt.  But STUC is also ultimately opposed to the eviction of Scottish tenants whose arrears are a consequence of the Bedroom Tax.  The Scottish Parliament has the power to act on this by supporting Jackie Baillie’s Bill and in so doing reinforce its opposition to this iniquitous and inhumane measure.”

Gail Morrow of the Scottish Anti-Bedroom tax Federation said: "We have supported the Govan Law Centre petition, and helped it to gain over 5000 signatures. Now that there is a member’s bill based on it, put forward by Jackie Baillie MSP, the actions called for by the petition are one step closer to being acted upon. This will remove the threat of eviction from the thousands of people who worry about paying for basics such as food and heating. The bedroom tax is a horrible piece of legislation, forced upon us by the Westminster government. In Scotland, we don't have the power to repeal the bedroom tax, but we do have the power to remove the worst effect of it - the threat of eviction." 

Alan Wyllie of the No2 Bedroom Tax campaign said: “The Scottish Government should be leading on this issue and taking a stand against the bedroom tax. We support this Bill because it would remove the fear of eviction for thousands of bedroom tax victims across Scotland. However the Scottish Government must also pledge to fund the £50m ‘bedroom tax shortfall’ so council and housing association budgets don’t have to pay the price for this cruel tax.”

Cllr Mark Macmillan, Leader of Renfrewshire Council said:
"Jackie Baillie and Scottish Labour are to be congratulated on bringing forward measures today to protect tenants who are being pushed into debt because of the bedroom tax.  Scottish Councils can commit to no evictions policies just now – but over 40% of tenants in Scotland live in housing association properties.  Councils cannot protect these people and we need the Scottish Government to act decisively now to protect this group of tenants."


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