By a Newsnet reporter

The SNP has claimed that the failure of Labour councils to act on the Bedroom Tax is rapidly becoming a test of Johann Lamont's leadership after another Labour dominated council refused to protect people affected by the new legislation, from eviction.

North Lanarkshire Council yesterday became the latest Labour local authority to refuse to back the SNP on a non-eviction policy for those affected by the Bedroom Tax.  The SNP group on the council had moved an amendment backing a no-eviction policy at yesterday's full council meeting, but were voted down by the Labour group.

The SNP motion was defeated by 42 to 23 after Labour councillors voted against the no-evictions policy.  Speaking after the vote, council leader Jim McCabe defended his party's decision, saying:

"It's easy to say we'll have no evictions but the truth is that the picture is much more complex. We'll analyse the impact of all the welfare reforms, not just the bedroom tax, and deal with them in a sensible, sensitive way."

He added: "We have demonstrated already that we will work closely with our tenants to help them through this and that work will continue. And I guarantee that this council will do everything possible to protect the most vulnerable in our communities in the face of this right-wing war on the poor."

Earlier this week, Labour called on the Scottish Parliament to impose legislation that would have made it illegal to evict people who fall into arrears as a result of the Bedroom Tax.  However, the party faced claims that the call was merely a means of diverting from the decision by several Labour run local authorities to refuse to back a no-evictions policy.

Last weekend, the nine SNP led councils in Scotland pledged not to evict people affected by the Bedroom Tax who are doing all they reasonably can to avoid falling into arrears.

It also emerged that the Labour leader of North Lanarshire council himself had refused to back his party'scalls for new legislation.  Appearing before Holyrood's Welfare Reform Committee on Tuesday, Mr McCabe said that he was opposed to a Scotland-wide solution and to a no-evictions policy, saying that some tenants may take advantage of it. 

Mr McCabe said: "With the greatest respect to Dundee and I respect their decision or any other council to say 'no we’re not going to evict' - you're opening a door to a certain extent to some people who may take advantage of that."

He continued: "What I said about councils doing their own thing – they will do that. It's different strokes for different folks. What suits Dundee might not suit north Lanarkshire and what suits the highlands might not suit the borders, in all instances … Councils will make their own mind up how best to attack this, but at least we can look at each other's practices to see which one fits us."

Commenting, SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn who sits on the Welfare Reform Committee said:

"This is rapidly becoming a major embarrassment for the Labour Party leadership who are so unable to work positively with their own councillors that they demanded legislation to overrule them.

"If SNP-led councils have been able to stand up and say they will not evict tenants affected by the Bedroom Tax who are doing their best to pay their bills, why are Labour local authorities incapable of following suit?

"The botched response Labour is making to this hugely damaging and unfair tax is rapidly turning this into a leadership issue for Johann Lamont.

"There is no doubt that the Bedroom Tax is an abhorrent policy and the level of outrage surrounding what is being imposed is entirely justified.

"The Bedroom Tax needs to be scrapped completely, and the Scottish Parliament needs the powers to scrap it. Only a Yes vote in September 2014 will give us the chance to do that, and ensure that welfare in Scotland reflects the values of people living here rather than the values of the Westminster system."


# call me dave 2013-03-30 10:11
Some people would use the 'no eviction' policy to run up debt say the Labour councils, using it as a reason to do nothing.

It also is a convenient situation to allow them to point the finger at the SG to cough up the money required for the estimated shortfall. £50M I read somewhere. The UK government is handing over £10M to the SG and asking them to get on with it.

Lamont has kept a low profile since elected and appears to be doing nothing behind the scenes to bring the Scottish arm of London labour into line. This is not helped with London labour sitting on their hands in westminster as she cant use that as leverage to do the right thing in Scotland. Her position is very weak.

There is a march in Glasgow today about the UK austerity cuts, how many labour top dogs will turn up. ??

# Shagpile 2013-03-30 10:28
Well, Ms Lamont is indeed having a leadership crisis when her Scottish underling Ms Curran has effectively said it is up to Holyrood to oppose, and I'll do as Ed wants and not as you say.

Result...... Ms Lamont says nothing, zilch. But move along here..... Nothing to speak, nothing to see and nothing to hear. A trio of monkeys on her unionist back.
# alexb 2013-03-30 10:42
Being a North Lanarkshire resident I have twice in the last three weeks written to the local paper exposing the sheer hypocrisy of both the Labour controlled council, especially the leader, Jim McCabe, and the Labour M.P for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East, Gregg McClymont. Both have been quoted in the local press as saying they despise the so-called "bedroom tax", so I asked what measures they were going to take to combat it since a Westminster Labour front-bench spokeswoman, on Helen Goodman, MP is on record as saying that the Labour party would keep the tax in place with one exception. Probably predictably, no reply from McCabe, and I'm still waiting to see if McClymont will respond. Thinking about it, hypocrisy isn't a strong enough word to describe the Labour party's attitude, but I'll leave it at that for now.
# From The Suburbs 2013-03-30 23:08
no one in the Labour leadership has said they would repeal the Bedroom tax.

And see below for the list of the few Labour MPs who refused the whip to abstain rather than vote against the Tory bill to prevent job seekers getting a minimum wage for work placements at high street stores.
# BillyMac 2013-03-30 11:04
Jim McCabe. Any relation to Labour worthy Tom McCabe?
# Ready to Start 2013-03-30 11:24
According to Magnus Gardham's column (sorry Labour press release) in Herald this morning it is only the SNP at Holyrood that is posturing on benefit cuts.

On BBC Good morning Scotland we had Prof Curtice rambling on about some survey about Easter eggs being bad news for Alex Salmond and it didn't sound like tongue in cheek.

However news from BBC that more people viewed story about a hamster than announcement of refertendum date didn't surprise me as many Scots no longer trust the BBC.
# Malcolm Laughton 2013-03-30 13:06
Labour record on Welfare Benefits:

The Bedroom Tax: The previous Labour UK Government applied the same bedroom restrictions to private tenants under the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) from 2008. The present Con/Dem UK Coalition has extended it to Social Housing Tenants.
# Legerwood 2013-03-30 14:47
Bedroom tax becoming test of Lamont's leadership

What 'leadership'?

Surely 'Lamont's leadership' is an oxymoron.
# jjmac 2013-03-30 19:53
I worked with Jim McCabe some 30 years ago on an oil rig and despite our political differences i found him to be a very nice man. Hello Jim if you're reading this.
# Angusman 2013-03-30 20:33
The Bedroom tax is abhorrent. Surely the Condem government know this, yet they continue to go ahead wit it. I think they want rid of Scotland through a referendum.

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