By a Newsnet reporter

Protesters have gathered across Scotland and throughout the UK to oppose the Westminster Government's Bedroom Tax, as the Scottish government promised there will be no let up in the opposition to the policy.

With SNP MSPs joining Greens, Scottish Socialists and people from across Scottish communities in protests against the Bedroom Tax, the party has highlighted that at every level the SNP is at the forefront of opposition to the deeply unfair policy that will tear people out of their communities and drive thousands of people deeper into poverty.

The cut to Housing Benefit comes into effect on Monday 1 April.  It is estimated that some 100,000 Scottish tenants in council housing or who rent from housing associations will be affected by the new policy, which penalises tenants who are deemed to have a spare bedroom.

Affected tenants will see a cut of at least £14 a week in their income.  It is estimated that Scottish tenants will lose a total of £53 million as a result of the cut.

The UK government claims that it is taking the action in order to assist larger families who have been left on council housing waiting lists, and note that many 2 or 3 bedroom properties are occupied by single people or couples without children.  However critics point out that there is not a sufficient stock of one-bedroom properties available for households consisting of a single person or a couple.

Disabled people who require a spare room for storing mobility equipment, or where the disabled person's partner is unable to share a bedroom with them, are expected to be badly affected by the Bedroom Tax.

SNP controlled local authorities have adopted motions promising not to evict tenants who get into rent arrears as a result of the Bedroom Tax.

Public anger over the cuts has resulted in a number of demonstrations and protests. Over 3000 joined the march in Glasgow, while over 1000 demonstrated in Edinburgh, according to police estimates.  March organisers claim that the numbers attending were higher.  Yes Scotland banners were prominent in the march.

Speaking to the Daily Record, Alice Bowman, of the Radical Scottish Independence Campaign, said:

"Only four out 45 Scottish MPs voted in favour of the bedroom tax.  In an independent Scotland we will have our voices heard, and have control of our own budget."

Saturday's protests came on the same day that the Westminster Government's own poverty Tsar Frank Field launched a brutal attack on the Bedroom Tax, saying:

"The government is introducing social and physical engineering on a scale that Stalin would have been proud of. The way they are doing it is so extraordinary."

Mr Field believes that the Bedroom Tax is doomed to failure, and contrary to UK government assertions it is "Treasury driven" and intended to reduce UK expenditure. He said:

"It is Treasury driven. There are always schemes in the department like this horrible one which civil servants take off the shelf."

Mr Field stated that the Bedroom Tax is fatally flawed as housing associations were encouraged to build two- and three-bedroom accommodation "irrespective of what the size of the population is".  He estimates that the UK government will save £500m as many people will take a cut in housing benefit because they cannot move.

Socialist politician and former MSP Tommy Sheridan spoke at the rally in Glasgow.  Mr Sheridan said:

"We have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have turned out here today.

"This issue is bigger than Labour versus SNP; this is not about left and right it is about right and wrong and the bedroom tax is wrong."

Commenting SNP MSP Linda Fabiani said:

"On the weekend before this dreaded attack on more than 100,000 households across Scotland, people are coming together to send an unmistakable message to Westminster; that the Bedroom Tax is a disgusting policy and must be scrapped.

"At every level of Government, the SNP has been at the forefront of efforts to oppose and overturn the Bedroom Tax.

"At Westminster where over 90% of Scottish MPs voted to oppose the policy, the SNP group led a debate on opposition to the Bedroom Tax. In Scotland, the Scottish Government has brought in a series of mitigation measures and has made a firm commitment to scrap the policy in an independent Scotland.

"And at local authority level. SNP-led councils have committed not to evict tenants affected by the Bedroom Tax who are doing all they can to avoid falling into arrears, in contrast to several Labour local authorities who have refused to follow suit.

"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."

Pamela Nash, Labour MP for Airdrie and Shotts, said: "I joined the thousands of people who marched in Glasgow and throughout the UK today against the bedroom tax.

"This is a disgraceful, badly thought-out policy and the Tory-led Government should do the right thing, admit that they got it completely wrong and abandon it immediately.

"My local authority, North Lanarkshire Council, has over 5,500 tenants affected by the bedroom tax, but as of last month, only 26 one-bedroom houses (were) available for rent.

"The Government wants people to give up their 'spare' rooms, but they have nowhere else to go. This policy will simply cut their benefits.

"Tory policy appears to be to cut the benefits of the poorest in our society at the same time as they give tax breaks to the rich; attacking the most vulnerable when they need support."

However, as reported by Newsnet Scotland, the Labour run local authority in Ms Nash's constituency has refused to back a no-eviction policy.  The Labour party supports the Bedroom Tax penalty for people who decline to move to smaller accomodation if it is available.


# Tappietourrie 2013-03-30 18:48
Reducing housing benefit from people who can ill afford it is wrong and in a nation where the very rich get tax breaks rubs salt into the wounds. How can we possible get people to pull together with divisive rulings like this? If people voting No to independence can stomach such directives from Westminster governments then there is no hope for our nation. Wake up Scotland because this may be the forerunner of more of the same to come. If there was adequate alternative accommodation for people in houses that are too big for them I could see some sense in this argument but there is not and why should people settled within a community be forced because of economics into other locations that they do not wish. Disruption of family ties, friends, good neighbours and being known and accepted with local communities may add to social problems outweighing any saving made through this ill thought out scheme.
# Tappietourrie 2013-03-30 19:09
This ill-conceived so called ‘bedroom tax’ points to a problem going back to the crash of the banking system and an inability of planners, developers and builders to satisfy the requirements for modern day society. Planners in local authorities were caught with their pants down because of an insufficient supply of land for building. Developers/builders were unable to borrow for housing development to satisfy needs. Both are in a cleft stick. Blame lack of bank regulation, Labour and their policy of light touch and now a UK that is effectively bankrupt. Do we really want to stay in a system that delivers such gloom and doom?
# brusque 2013-03-30 19:49
The Telegraph has this on the Front Page:

'We’ve given up trying to cut benefits'

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith admits he is no longer seeking to cut the benefits bill, but simply “managing” the increase.

Interesting that his comments come so soon after he got a taste of Scotland's anger.
# WRH2 2013-03-31 02:00
I really can't see how forcing one person/family out of a home deemed to be too large for them and giving it to another family is going to solve any problem. The root cause is that since WW2 we have not had proper investment in house building or in any infrastructure. We have been locked into Westminster's obsession of continuing to kid themselves they are still a big player on the world stage. And because of that, much of our revenue has been directed to that end. Instead of using road tax to maintain roads and other means of transport, it has gone into the pot to be spent on the myth and fantasy of UK aka England still being an big important country. Maybe long overdue, time to grow up and start focusing on our own futures instead of trying to decide for others.
Without this kind of stupid obsession, an independent Scotland can deliver a much better future for all its citizens. Vote Yes in 2014.
# Macart 2013-03-31 08:27
O/T only slightly. Mr Ian Davidson attended a bedroom tax demo and was queried on his parliamentary vote on the issue. This may be of interest.
# BRL 2013-03-31 08:54
Macart - Mr Davidson is shown in Hansard to have abstained (absent) for the bedroom vote. How can he say he voted 'NO' - against the government - that is just a lie and makes you wonder what else is lied about. Can something be done officially about this?
# Macart 2013-03-31 10:32
@ BRL - Soloman

Officially? I have no idea. However it really should be the duty of the media to bring this to public notice. If indeed it seems to be the case that Mr Davidson is misrepresenting his parliamentary position to members of the public, then the public should be made more fully aware of the action. Its not as if members of Labour's parliamentary party have been slow to attack members of the Scottish govt. on every issue imagined or otherwise either through official channels or the press. Do they hold themselves up to that same standard?
# zorbathejock 2013-03-31 08:34
Instead of a cut in benefits for those with "extra" bedrooms why not a tax on all extra bedrooms? those on benefits would not fall into this tax band but the rich living in large houses would.
# Louperdowg 2013-03-31 08:37
What happens if your duck house has an extra nesting area?
# balbeggie 2013-03-31 09:41
Not allowed under Health and Safety rules, they would need to see a Quack.
# Soloman 2013-03-31 09:47
@ Macart

Here is Mr Davidson on film answering questions at yesterrdays march. Looks like his pants were on fire as his nose was growing. ( Just my opinion )
# Old Smokey 2013-03-31 12:32
Definatly lying his socks off.Should make sure this is widely distributed with a copy of the hansard record that show's he didnt even bother to vote
Roll on 2014 and we can start to rid ourselves of such barstewards
# Old Smokey 2013-03-31 13:20
Other Labour MP's that didnt bother were:
Gordon Brown , Alistair Darling, Tom Harris, Michael McCann & Fiona O'Donnell.
Also most if not all the Scottish Libdems didnt bothere either.
I also note that the media brodcasters seem to shy away from showing any 'YES Scotland'banners
# Robabody 2013-03-31 12:37
Attended the Edinburgh rally yesterday (that's me in the middle mum), good turnout with lots of individual families as well as organised groups in attendance. Pity about the "PA system", very difficult to hear some of the speeches clearly. However, good show everyone.

Anent MP Davidson - why was he at the march if he lacked the courage to vote against the tax in the first place? Soothing a conscience, testing the political temperature or what?
# call me dave 2013-03-31 13:26
Just heard Glen (rent a quote) Campbell on BBC Radio Sportsound at the half time interval re:
Mr Cameron to ease the Rangers and Celtic into the top flight in England.
"Is it a ploy to help the better together campaign ?" he is asked.

"! Well it's a bit crude to put it that way" says Glen. "BUT it is well known that Charles Green has written to the PM and has received a reply out of courtesy as you would expect".

Aye right Glen your just sitting about on Sunday with nothing to do, thanks for the comment.

Roll on 2014.

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