Cash to tackle welfare cuts

Louise McLeary (far right) with anti-bedroom tax campaigners at her successful appeal hearing at Pathhead church.

Louise McLeary (far right) with anti-bedroom tax campaigners at her successful appeal hearing at Pathhead church.

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Fife Council has been awarded a share of a £20 million pot to help support households in the face of UK Government welfare reforms.

The additional funding has been allocated to Scottish local authorities to add to their Discretionary Housing Payment budget and will be used to ease the impact of the bedroom tax.

Louise McLeary from Kirkcaldy who appealed against a cut to her housing benefit at a tribunal, the first of its kind in Scotland.

Louise McLeary from Kirkcaldy who appealed against a cut to her housing benefit at a tribunal, the first of its kind in Scotland.

The money will top up Fife’s initial payment of £539,010 by £800,381 to a total of £1,339,391.

Fife Council leader Alex Rowley welcomed the move but called on the Scottish Government to work together to eradicate the controversial tax completely.

He said: “We would call on them to consider supporting the No2bedroom tax campaign petition and make £50 million available to eradicate the impact on all tenants.

“This additional money being awarded to Fife for bedroom tax will have no impact on tenants as we were one of the few authorities who had already topped up the discretionary housing fund to the maximum.”

People on housing benefit who are in financial difficulty can now apply to their local council for emergency funding towards their on-going housing costs, such as rent shortages.

Kirkcaldy MSP David Torrance described the tax as “horrendous” adding: “It is utterly unfair and is devastating the lives of people across Scotland who have no way to avoid the financial penalties Westminster has imposed. Scotland should not be in the position of simply having to clean up Westminster’s mess.

“A ‘Yes’ vote in next year’s referendum will be a vote to end the bedroom tax and ensure that nothing like it can be imposed on Scotland by a Westminster Government ever again.”

Louise McLeary, spokesman for the Fife Anti Bedroom Tax Campaign says the Government must do more.

“We feel that it would be far more effective in the long run for the Scottish Government to put in place a non eviction policy to protect tenants who have gathered arrears through the implementation of the bedroom tax,” she said.

Mr Rowley added that the Scottish Government must “eradicate all impact of this inhumane tax from the poorest people across Scotland and jointly work together to rid it from the statute book forever”.