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Monday, March 4, 2024

Starmer Challenged on Bedroom Tax

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The SNP has challenged Keir Starmer to admit whether the Labour Party is “secretly planning to keep the Tory bedroom tax” – following the backlash over its U-turn on the two-child cap.

New analysis, published today, has revealed the damaging impact of the policy over the past decade.

It shows 504,280 households had their Universal Credit or Housing Benefit payments reduced as a result of the punitive policy last year, including 97,425 households in Scotland.

The policy, introduced by the Tory-Lib Dem government in 2013, saw impacted households in Scotland lose an average of £786.84 in Housing Benefit and £709.08 in Universal Credit deductions in 2022.

Overall impacted households across Britain, lost an average of £870.72 in Housing Benefit and £856.20 in Universal Credit deductions in 2022.

The analysis shows 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.

Commenting, SNP Social Justice spokesperson David Linden MP said:

“Sir Keir Starmer must admit whether the pro-Brexit Labour Party is secretly planning to keep the Tory bedroom tax, which cut the incomes of almost 100,000 low income households in Scotland last year – and more than half a million households across the UK.

“It’s clearer by the day that the SNP is the only party offering real change with independence and real help with the cost of living.

“In contrast, Sunak and Starmer are lurching further to the right and taking money away from millions of households across Scotland and the UK.

“People in Scotland are crying out for change from the damage of Westminster control – but all they are getting from the Tories and pro-Brexit Labour Party are more cuts to household incomes, more cuts to public services, and more long-term decline with Brexit.

“At the next election, voting SNP is the only way to secure independence, tackle the cost of living, and get rid of unelected Tory governments for good.”

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