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Flynn Writes to Starmer on Bedroom Tax

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The SNP has challenged Keir Starmer to “come out of hiding” and admit whether the pro-Brexit Labour Party is secretly planning to keep the Tory bedroom tax.

In a letter to Sir Keir, Stephen Flynn MP said “People in Scotland are wise to the fact that the pro-Brexit Labour Party is becoming a carbon copy of the Tories – keeping the very worst of their cuts agenda, and pushing thousands of Scottish children into poverty in the process.”

The SNP Westminster Leader said “It’s increasingly clear the SNP is the only party offering real change with independence and real help with the cost of living”.

It comes as independent research, commissioned by the SNP, found around 100,000 households in Scotland (97,425) had their Universal Credit or Housing Benefit payments reduced as a result of the bedroom tax last year, with more than half a million (504,280) hit across the UK. Households in Scotland lost an average of £786.84 in Housing Benefit and £709.08 in Universal Credit deductions in 2022.

The analysis found families in Scotland have been disproportionately hit by the bedroom tax, with one in three (33%) housing benefit claimants in Scotland having their benefits reduced compared to one in six (16%) in England, and 29% of Universal Credit claimants having their benefits reduced in Scotland, compared to 18% of claimants in England.

The SNP government has spent hundreds of millions of pounds protecting households by mitigating the bedroom tax in Scotland.

The analysis shows in 2022/23 alone, the Scottish Government spent £66.85million mitigating the bedroom tax by providing Discretionary Housing Payments to impacted households. Since 2019/20 it has spent more than £266.10million on mitigating the policy, which could otherwise be used on additional measures to tackle poverty.

In his letter, SNP Westminster Leader Stephen Flynn MP writes:

“Dear Sir Keir,

“Barely a week has passed since the Labour Party faced a backlash over your shameful plans to keep the Tory two child cap, which has condemned 250,000 children to poverty.

“Now people in Scotland are asking what other cruel and damaging Tory policies are the Labour Party secretly planning to keep – and at what cost to families?

“One of those damaging policies is the Tory bedroom tax, which has punished the poorest families and deliberately made them poorer. It is a policy that has disproportionately affected Scotland, with around 100,000 Scottish families hit last year to the tune of more than £700 each.

“And it is a Westminster policy that has cost Scotland dearly. The SNP government has mitigated the bedroom tax to protect families in Scotland at the cost of hundreds of millions of pounds – money which could otherwise have been spent on additional measures to reduce poverty in Scotland.

“With all of that in mind, it’s time you and your party came out of hiding and answered the following questions:

  1. Is it true that you are secretly planning to keep the Tory bedroom tax?
  2. Was Anas Sarwar not telling the truth when he gave a commitment that the Labour Party “would abolish the bedroom tax” during a televised debate ahead of the 2014 independence referendum?
  3. What impact assessment have you made on the number of families the Labour Party will push further into poverty as a result of this policy? Have you even checked?
  4. Will you refund the Scottish Government for the cost of mitigating this Labour Party policy in Scotland – or will you leave the SNP to pick up the pieces of your mess?
  5. What other Tory cuts are you planning to keep?

“People in Scotland are wise to the fact that the pro-Brexit Labour Party is becoming a carbon copy of the Tories – keeping the very worst of their cuts agenda, and pushing thousands of Scottish children into poverty in the process.

“It’s increasingly clear the SNP is the only party offering real change with independence and real help with the cost of living.

“I look forward to your response.

“Yours for Scotland,

“Stephen Flynn MP

“SNP Westminster Leader”

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