UK 'bedroom tax': GLC calls for Scottish solutions to prevent homelessness and human misery for tens of thousands

GLC is calling on the Scottish Government to set up an additional, special fund in Scotland to mitigate the impact of next April's 'bedroom tax' where tenants of councils and housing associations will face cuts of 14 to 25% in their housing benefit where they are deemed to have an extra bedroom or more.

In an address to a public meeting of tenants in Glasgow's *Pearce Institute, GLC's Principal Solicitor Mike Dailly also called upon Scottish local authorities and the Scottish Government to set up 'Homelessness Prevention Funds' where tenants can borrow small loans interest free to stave of homelessness.  Such schemes have already been successful in some parts of England.

He also called upon the Scottish Government to support an amendment to the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 to prevent social landlords relying upon rent arrears accrued through the bedroom tax being founded upon in court actions for eviction – such debts could be pursued through other civil debt recovery routes. Such a measure could be implemented on a transitional basis to ensure Scottish tenants had sufficient time to explore all options, given it was physically impossible for all tenants to downsize due the lack of alternative accommodation in the social rented sector.

Mike said: "Where are Scottish tenants expected to go? The private rented sector has already expanded and the Scottish Government has helped this by allowing homelessness duties to be met by them. But private landlords when interviewed about their planned responses to housing benefit cuts have not said they will increase supply by building more houses; rather they will sub-divide existing houses, often former council houses”.

“It is incredible to think that the UK Government is going back to the future – recreating the conditions for the emergence of high cost slum housing – by driving people into smaller and more cramped homes as they tax the low paid and poor. The return of the ‘single end’. Victorian values recreating Victorian housing conditions”.

The text of Mike’s talk is available online here (opens as a PDF) * on the evening of Thursday 18 October 2012.

* UPDATE - the next Glasgow meeting on housing benefit cuts will take place in the Pearce Institute, Govan Road, Glasgow at 7pm on 27 November 2012. All welcome. Confirmed speakers include Johann Lamont MSP, Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Dave Moxham, Deputy General Secretary of the STUC, Mike Dailly, GLC, and John Flanagan, Chair of Govan Housing Association, with further MSPs and councillors tbc. Organised by tenants and residents associations in Govan and Linthouse.