SFHA to give bedroom tax evidence

SFHAThe Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) has been called to give evidence on the bedroom tax to a Scottish Parliament committee.

The body is being asked to testify on the efficacy of the Scottish Government’s decision to mitigate the impact of the bedroom tax in Scotland, and look at how the move has worked in practice.

Jeremy Hewer, SFHA housing policy advisor, said: “Over the past couple of years, the Scottish Government has exercised its financial powers to mitigate the effect of the ‘bedroom tax’, with funding to cover what was estimated to be needed to fully mitigate it in 2014/15 and what is hoped will be sufficient to fully mitigate the bill in this financial year (2015/16).

“What would be useful for the committee to know is how well has this worked in practice: mitigation is not the same as abolition, and there has been variation in how straightforward or otherwise it has been for housing association tenants who have been subject to the ‘bedroom tax’ to get Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) to cover their liability to the full.

“We also know that there are a proportion of tenants whose ‘bedroom tax’ liability took them off Housing Benefit, so they were unable to claim DHPs. We are aware that there may have been variation in how tenants with disabilities were treated when they applied for exemption for a spare bedroom on the basis of their condition, and I am anxious to get examples of the experiences of housing associations which I can present to the committee.”

The SFHA is appealing for housing associations who want to give examples of their experience of seeking Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) to contact Jeremy Hewer before 11 May.