Alba Party Challenge Labour to “Come Clean” on whether they will Keep or Scrap Bedroom Tax
Alba Party have challenged the Labour Party to “come clean” with people in Scotland whether or not they will scrap the Bedroom Tax if they win the next General Election.
Alba Party Westminster leader Neale Hanvey MP says that Keir Starmer’s “logic” behind his support for the two child benefit cap suggests that Labour are now “fully signed up supporters of the Bedroom Tax”.
The bedroom tax was mitigated in Scotland in 2014 after the UK Government buckled under pressure from Alex Salmond’s then Scottish Government after they announced the funding to effectively end the tax in Scotland as part of the 2014/15 Scottish Budget.
Mr Hanvey has today called on Starmer’s opposition to set out their policy in regards to the Bedroom Tax saying that “ if Alex Salmond’s Government didn’t act in 2014 then people across Scotland would still be paying the bedroom tax. But that comes at a cost because every year the Scottish Parliament has less money to spend on new priorities because of decisions made at Westminster. If Starmer’s logic is that he won’t scrap the Tory Two Child Cap then it is increasingly likely that if in Government his Labour Party wouldn’t scrap the bedroom tax either. It’s time for the Labour Party to come clean, if they get into Government will they scrap the bedroom tax or keep it?”.
Last week former First Minister and Alba Party leader Alex Salmond advised Humza Yousaf to step in to mitigate the two child benefit cap in Scotland.
Salmond said that in doing so the Scottish Government “would uphold the traditional Scottish values of community and compassion, values betrayed by Tony Blair’s Labour Party and betrayed still by Keir Starmer’s Newer Labour Party”.
Urging Yousaf to act, Mr Salmond said mitigating the Two Child Cap “wouldn’t be about using the Scottish Parliament as a sticking plaster to protect Scots from the abhorrent policies of Westminster but rather a means of showing that there is a new administration in town that seeks to show the people of Scotland that when the Scots Parliament makes decisions about their welfare they will always be better decisions than those made by Westminster.”
The Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland estimates the cost of abolishing the two-child limit across the UK would be £1.3bn.
That would lift 250,000 children out of poverty - up to 15,000 of them in Scotland - the group says.
The cap has already affected over 80,000 children in Scotland and 1.5m across UK.
Alba say the estimated cost of fully mitigating the policy in Scotland would be around £85m.
Salmond says that the Scottish Government could do this by striking a deal with Local Authorities in Scotland to increase the funding received for discretionary housing payments. He said:
“ The Scottish government already provinces funding through discretionary housing payments - that is how we mitigated the unacceptable hardship of Westminster’s bedroom tax. If the Scottish Government added a further £85Million in funding this would mean that, if you are affected by the two child benefit cap, just likes those that were affected by the bedroom tax, you could simply apply to your local authority for a discretionary housing payment and you should get one. If Scotland took this approach we wouldn’t need to wait for a new Scottish benefit to be created by Social Security Scotland and the two child cap could be fully mitigated in Scotland with money in the pockets of hard-pressed families by the end of August.”