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The new Labour led administration on Dumfries and Galloway Council has pledged to ensure that no one in the region loses out this year as a result of the introduction of the “bedroom tax”.

Under new proposals from the council revealed today (22 October), everyone who has their Housing Benefit cut by the Tory government as a result of the “bedroom tax” or the benefit cap will be compensated by the council with Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) to the full value of the cut for a full year. The payments will be backdated until April 2013.  

Leader of the Council Ronnie Nicholson said, “One of the key priorities of the new Labour SNP administration is to protect the most vulnerable in our local communities. Right across our region, nearly 2000 households have been the victims of the bedroom tax. That is why one of our earliest moves is to ensure that no one loses out this year as a result of this hated tax. Therefore, Discretionary Housing payments will be made by the council to all the victims of the tax. This will be for a full year, for the full amount they lose due to the bedroom tax and the payments will be backdated to April 2013.”

“I know this will come as a relief to thousands of people across our region who have been penalised through no fault of their own by this hated tax. There is now no reason whatsoever why anyone should be evicted from their home as a specific result of the bedroom tax. I would call on all housing associations to put on hold any action they are currently taken against any tenant due to the bedroom tax”.  

“Ideally, we want to repeat this year on year. However, whether we are allowed to will depend on the UK Government’s rules in relation to Discretionary Housing Payment and whether they and the Scottish Government will provide any funding to council’s for this after March 2014. Sadly we still haven’t been told whether they will or not and we wont find this out until January.”

“Members of the Council’s Welfare Reform Committee will be meeting with UK Government Ministers to discuss this in the next few weeks and we will make the case to them and the Scottish Government that we want funding to continue beyond this year.”

The proposal has been welcomed by Dumfries and Galloway Russell Brown MP who is campaigning for the scrapping of the “bedroom tax”.

“This is really positive news and the new Labour led council administration is to be congratulated on making this an early priority. The bedroom tax has been one of the biggest blights on thousands of people in our region who are are having to choose between paying their rent or putting food on their families table. This is a real common sense move by the council because it is doubtful that the bedroom tax will actually save money. The hard pressed council tax payer would be left to pick up the bill for people who become homeless as a result of being evicted. We also know that in our region there is a shortage of one bedroom properties, so even if someone in a two bedroom housing association property wanted to move to avoid being penalised by the bedroom tax, there is nowhere for them to go. This announcement by the council will at the very least buy time to help people move house if they want to , although I hope it can be repeated next year and then hopefully we will have a new government who will scrap this tax”.

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