By Martin Kelly

The UK Labour party has confirmed it would keep the Bedroom Tax for people who declined to move to smaller accommodation arguing that it was needed in order to allow social housing stock to be used “more efficiently”.

Speaking yesterday, Labour MP Helen Goodman who sits on the party’s National Policy Forum, said that the UK Housing Benefit bill had to be brought down.

Shadow Cabinet member Ms Goodman said: "We’ve said that the bedroom tax should only apply if people have been offered a smaller place to live and turned it down because, obviously, it is better to use the housing stock more efficiently.

She added: "In the short to medium term we did need to bring down the housing benefit bill and we had said that we would reduce the rents that were paid under housing benefit in the private sector and that’s where the rents were really spiralling up very fast, much more than in the social sector, which is where this bedroom tax is being applied now."

The comments are acutely embarrassing for the Scottish Labour party and came on the same day that Ms Goodman’s Shadow Cabinet colleague, Scottish Labour MP Margaret Curran (pictured) pledged the party would lead the “fight against the tax”.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Shadow Scottish Secretary said: "Our main goal is to keep the pressure on the Tory Government and Michael Moore to think again about a cruel tax which will hit some of the most vulnerable people in our communities and Labour will lead that campaign.

"But there is a strong feeling among the people in the housing sector we have been listening to that the SNP could be doing more to help Scottish families who are weeks away from hit with a tax they can't afford."

Ms Curran’s Holyrood colleague Jackie Baillie, who is Scottish Labour's welfare spokesperson, said: "We know what the Tories are doing is very wrong but we need to offer families more than just warm words."

During a recent Westminster debate led by the SNP and Plaid Cymru - which called on the UK Government to abandon the bedroom tax - over 90% of Scottish MPs supported the motion, but the policy is still set to be imposed in Scotland.

Commenting, SNP MSP Linda Fabiani said:

"This is shameful hypocrisy from Labour.  Labour say one thing in Scotland, and the opposite in London - where the decision to impose the Bedroom Tax was made.

"Time and time again, Labour have made half-hearted criticisms of welfare cuts, but Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne has already said that Labour will make further cuts to the welfare budget if Labour wins in 2015.

"As long as decisions about welfare are made in Westminster, Scotland will continue to have unfair and damaging policies forced on it by governments that we didn’t vote for.  That is why Scotland needs to have the powers of independence, so that we can make decisions in and for Scotland."

The comments by Helen Goodman coincided with an admission by the UK coalition that Scotland will be disproportionately hit by the new legislation.  According to analysis, the Bedroom Tax is set to have a devastating impact in Scotland due to the application of the size criteria to local authority owned temporary housing.

In Scotland over 50% of homeless temporary accommodation is local authority owned, compared to the rest of the UK where the bulk of temporary accommodation for homelessness provision is leased from the private sector.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Eilidh Whiteford MP asked Minister of State for Pensions, Steve Webb, whether such consequences were an oversight, something that the Minister conceded.

"… we do recognise there may be  particular issues in Scotland partly with rurality and partly with the housing stock and we’re certainly happy to continue the conversation with honourable members." he replied.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

"Amid all the soundbites about spare bedrooms, there has been a failure to acknowledge the underlying shortage in affordable housing across the UK and the backdrop of changing demographics.

"What makes the Government’s under-occupancy rules fundamentally unworkable is the mismatch between available social housing stock and the needs of tenants and prospective tenants."

The SNP MP pointed out that there was not enough smaller housing available for people to downsize and added, "That mismatch is entirely outside the control of tenants, yet they are being punished for a structural problem not of their making."

Comments  

 
# UpSpake 2013-03-12 07:48
Why would anyone in Westminster care a hoot if this charge/tax, call it what you will, will affect Scotland disproportionat ly. Clearly no-one in Westminster and that included Scots Labour politicians consider their fellow citizens.
I still call for the Scots government to act. It is their moral duty to do so despite their subservience to Westminster.
 
 
# Marian 2013-03-12 07:57
Thats Labour for you - facing both ways at the same time.
 
 
# andymac96 2013-03-12 09:17
I really hope the Scottish people wake up to the fact that the only Socialists left in Labour will of necessity HAVE to join Labour for Independence
 
 
# alexb 2013-03-12 09:18
Last week we had the Labour leader of North Lanarkshire Council, the area where I live , condemning in no uncertain terms, the "bedroom tax". So I wrote to the local paper and posed the question if his party was so opposed to this iniquitous tax then why did no fewer than 35 Labour M.Ps representing Scottish constituencies fail to turn up, or vote, when the Welafare Reform Bill was being debated in the House of Commons. And why did Ed Balls when asked if his party would abolish it if they came to power in 2015, he would only reply, "It depends on finances at that time". So once again the truth comes out rather belatedly, and probably not reported, certainly not by B.B.C Scotland.
 
 
# cynicalHighlander 2013-03-12 17:51
Balls” “We won’t reverse cuts and pay freeze”: union-news.co.uk/.../...
 
 
# clootie 2013-03-12 09:18
Blue Tory / Red Tory and the LibDem sheep. They are all on a fixed course.

No one mentions that the Welfare budget didn't rise in Scotland as it did in England but they are going to impose it anyway.

I only hope people come to realise that a (London run)Labour is no longer a solution to their problems as it remains far to the right of the original values of the party founders.
 
 
# Breeks 2013-03-12 09:25
And there's wee Johann attacking the SNP for saying one thing in public and another in private.

Pity hypocrisy can't be harvested as a source of energy; it's certainly a renewable resource of alternative energy, and Scottish Labour can produce it in such volume!!!
 
 
# hetty 2013-03-12 09:32
The sheer hypocrisy anyway, imagine having several mansions in their own grounds, and feeling it is ok to tell people with very little and feeling lucky to have a roof over their heads, that they are an economic burden if they have an extra bedroom that might just be big enough to fit an actual bed and small wardrobe in it? I don't think these millionaires are particularly qualified to make major decisions about people's lives, I wonder what they were asked at their job interviews? They have absolutely no social morals toward ordinary people and no conscience re the consequences of their actions, they are quite clearly happy to see people affected detrimentally and economically sinking. They should be taxing the rich to pay for their utter mismanagement of the country's finances.
 
 
# Leader of the Pack 2013-03-12 09:58
The transparent corruption in Labour is just breathtaking but worse is the fact that the media is so controlled and party politically partisan they get away with it. Again Labour in Westminster show their true Tory blue colours while their branch in Scotland blatently lie about the policy direction of their party and promote the opposite of their intent. It is utterly sickening to be living within this level of political corruption and media manipulation. We need Independence simply to become a working Parliamentary democracy if for nothing else.
 
 
# Leader of the Pack 2013-03-12 10:14
The SNP MP pointed out that there was not enough smaller housing available for people to downsize and added, "That mismatch is entirely outside the control of tenants, yet they are being punished for a structural problem not of their making."

This is the key to the whole fascist policy. Its the poll tax all over again with it hitting Scotland once again disproportionat ly. Once again a direct deliberate right wing tory attack on Scotland fully endorsed and supported by the New Tory Labour party. And the MSM once again cover it up or fail to even report it at all.
 
 
# Jimbo 2013-03-12 10:32
According to Labour's website 2o hours ago:

Following an emergency summit in Glasgow attended by more than 30 organisations, Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran and Scottish Labour welfare spokesperson Jackie Baillie pledged to fight back against the tax on carers, single parents and soldiers.

www.scottishlabour.org.uk/.../

Talk about saying one thing in public and another in private? This is reminiscent of Labour's save the Post Offices campaign. They really should talk to their London puppet masters before making statements - though I note they don't mention unemployed.
 
 
# Robabody 2013-03-12 13:56
Spot on Jimbo - decent labour supporters sold a pack of nonsense regarding PO closures. Going out and working to stop the closures, meantime the local MPs wrung their hands in despair in Scotland and then galloped of to Westminster to kowtow to Brown. Remploy springs to mind too. And since this is a family news site I'll restrain myself.........grrr.
 
 
# theycantbeserious 2013-03-12 10:47
Leader...you hit the nail on the head. History shows that the poor in society suffer for the bad decisions of the bankers and the rich. Why do we accept this, especially now in the 21st century. The social justice revolution must start with a YES vote in 2014.
 
 
# Dundonian West 2013-03-12 11:11
"The comments are acutely embarrassing for the Scottish Labour party and came on the same day that Ms Goodman’s Shadow Cabinet colleague, Scottish Labour MP Margaret Curran pledged the party would lead the “fight against the tax”.

When Will They Ever Learn,When Will They Ever Learn?

Milliband Labour MPs Branch Scotland are vastly outnumbered in Westminster and cannot implement anything in the interests of people in Scotland.
As for Curran I believe she knows that full well,and is playing at soundbites for the media---spin doctors etc.

Call her bluff.
 
 
# Macallan 2013-03-12 11:24
Curran and Baillie cannot go unchallenged. They must be asked whether or not they agree with Ms Goodman and what seems to be Labour Party policy at a UK level . I dont suppose the BBC will do this so they need to be challenged in Holyrood and Westminster. No doubt they have lots of weasel words to deny their unbelievable hypocrisy but lets make sure the public sees them in all their hypocritical glory .

This type of policy is the logical outcome of the Laments attack on the benefit culture so people should be made fully aware of what they can expect from the Labour party -vote YES
 
 
# bunter 2013-03-12 13:42
A good positive piece on the UK BBC lunchtime news on the vote for 16/17 year olds.
BBC Scotlands take on it just after, was somewhat less so in comparison.
Quelle surprise!!
 
 
# bunter 2013-03-12 13:58
Salmond will need to raise this Labour hypocracy at FMQs, for to be sure, the Scottish media will avoid this like the plague.
Though from past experience, Labour will run a spoiler and and the BBC will follow suit.
I predict it will either be a Scottish NHS scare or a Salmond ''accused'' headline and nothing more will be heard about Labours bedroom tax treachery.
(except of course us through the new media). Please use it!!
 
 
# Leader of the Pack 2013-03-12 15:45
Loveme

Thats a damn good idea why dont all you Tweets get onto Twitter and call out all of the Labour in Scotland members for their personal opinions of their London HQ party support for the bedroom tax. Lets see them squirm on twitter for the world to see.
 
 
# nchanter 2013-03-12 16:08
I am wondering if the various HPs will at some point need to sell off some of their housing stock to make ends meet as a result of this bedroom tax. A potential bonanza for speculators?.
 
 
# art1001 2013-03-12 16:51
Scottish Labour could halt the bedroom tax in its tracks tomorrow just like they could have halted Thatcher in the days of the Feeble Fifty. All they need is to cross the floor to the the SNP benches and vacate the rotten place and return to Scotland. Would they? No chance. They always prefer London Tory rule to the interests of their constituents.
 
 
# Leader of the Pack 2013-03-12 17:10
UK Government U turn on the bedroom tax. Blue tories save the red tory blushes again. Bet Labour and their poodle media take the credit for it too.
 
 
# dadsarmy 2013-03-12 19:15
I seem to be noticing signs that the Scottish Labour Party at Westminster are starting to move away from the main group, and back to more socialist policies. Long may this continue.
 

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