Midlothian MSP hits out at bedroom tax remark at Holyrood

Michelle Ballantyne MSP and Colin Beattie MSP.
Michelle Ballantyne MSP and Colin Beattie MSP.

Midlothian North MSP Colin Beattie has hit out at Scottish Conservative welfare spokesperson Michelle Ballantyne after she claimed today that the Bedroom Tax did not exist.

During a meeting of Social Security Committee today (Thursday) in the Scottish Parliament, Michelle Ballantyne said that “there’s no such thing as a bedroom tax”. Ms Ballantyne has played down her remarks and accused the SNP of “playing politics”.

SNP MSP Colin Beattie has called for Michelle Ballantyne to apologise for these remarks – after the MSP previously made comments about low-income families. Ms Ballantyne was widely condemned last year for refusing to apologise after declaring that the two child cap is fair as “people on benefits cannot have as many children as they like.”

The MSP also denied the overwhelming evidence that Tory welfare cuts have caused the surge in foodbank demand – since admitted by DWP boss Amber Rudd MP.

Mr Beattie said: “It is completely unacceptable that Michelle Ballantyne would deny reality like this.

“Michelle Ballantyne has previously refuted clear evidence that her party is causing surging foodbank demand, since admitted by DWP boss Amber Rudd MP.

“These comments were outrageous, and her disregard for the real-life consequences of the hated ‘bedroom tax’ cannot be ignored. If Ms Ballantyne won’t apologise, Jackson Carlaw (Scottish Conservative interim leader) must take action.

“If Michelle Ballantyne is who Jackson Carlaw believes should be running the Scottish Social Security System then that speaks absolute volumes about the Scottish Tories.”

Michelle Ballantyne MSP commented: “The point I was making in Committee was simply that the, so called, “bedroom tax” is not actually a form of taxation. It is the removal of the spare room subsidy on socially rented homes that used to be paid to families receiving housing benefit when the size of their house was larger than the benefits they were entitled to.

“If the SNP want to confect a row over terminology that’s up to them.

“As the Scottish Government starts to exercise their new social security powers, my focus is to ensure that social security in Scotland helps people in the best way possible. It’s disappointing that Colin Beattie is trying to play politics with an issue that affects thousands of hard-working Scottish people.”