Feature - Facing taxing times

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When the Scottish Government announced in its recent budget that it would provide £20 million to help tenants struggling to cope with the under-occupancy charge introduced in April, it was seen by some as too little, too late.

The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) has been inundated by people struggling to put food on the table due to the extra cost of the charge, also known at the ‘bedroom tax’.

Statistics released by the Scottish Government and COSLA in July linked a sharp increase in rent arrears with the introduction of the tax.

They showed that all but one local authority with housing stock had seen an increase in rent arrears, while three quarters of councils said that the bedroom tax was directly responsible for the increase in arrears.

A report commissioned by the Welfare Reform Committee at the Scottish Parliament showed that, once all the welfare reforms have come into effect in the coming years, the financial loss will be equivalent to £480 a year for each working age adult in Scotland.

The CAB say they are seeing clients on the verge of crisis. Many are building up arrears and others are trying to find smaller accommodation. Despite the best efforts of social landlords and advice agencies, the CAB believes that many of these clients will reach crisis point in the coming months due the under occupancy charge and other welfare reforms.

Read more in the September 26 edition of the Midlothian Advertiser.