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Council appeal for Scottish Government help with bedroom tax

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 12:59 GMT on Sunday, July 7th, 2013.

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Scottish Government have been asked to plug the financial black hole. Image is copyright of Scott Campbell/ Cumbernauld Media.

THE under-occupancy charge has once again became a local issue after North Lanarkshire Council appealed to the Scottish Government to plug the financial gap for residents affected by the so-called bedroom tax.

On June 20th, 2013, North Lanarkshire Council approved a motion which asked the Scottish Government to fill the financial black hole left behind for resident affected by the bedroom tax.

Councillor Bob Burrows, Convener of Finance and Customer Services, proposed the motion. He said the council recognised tenants were being hit “hard”.

Cllr Burrows said: "There is no doubt that the imposition of the bedroom tax by the UK Government is hitting our tenants hard. I firmly believe the Scottish Government should be helping us to do all we can for these people, and the council has backed that plea by majority.

"I'm surprised and disappointed that most members of the minority group chose not to support a motion that is about protecting the most vulnerable people in our communities but I'm pleased that the motion was carried.

"We're willing to work in partnership with anyone who can help to alleviate these pressures and I will now be looking for the Scottish Government to sit down with us and deliver financial support where it is needed most."

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At the meeting, members also voted in favour of a cash injection to the authority’s Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) fund. 

Discretionary Housing Payment funding comes in the first instance from the UK Government's Department of Work and Pensions, who allocated £375,000 to North Lanarkshire. The DWP rules allow the council to top up the fund to a maximum level and the council have decided to do this, bringing the total available to £935,000.

Councillor Jim McCabe, leader of North Lanarkshire Council, said: "I promised that we would look at all the impacts of the UK Government's horrendous welfare reforms closely and make sure we would help where we could. We have had 2200 applications this year and it was clear to us that we had to commit this money.

"This is just one of a number of steps we're taking to alleviate the problems caused by welfare reform. We have hired more advisers so people get the best possible advice and we have offered everyone potentially affected by the bedroom tax a face to face meeting to help where we can.

"If anyone is struggling to meet their rent payments it's essential that they contact their local housing office as soon as possible where our staff are ready to help."

Previously Cllr Jim McCabe, leader of the authority, had said that the council would retain the right to evict, despite being Scotland’s biggest Scottish local authority landlord.

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