Weir hits out at welfare reform

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ANGUS MP Mike Weir has slammed the UK Government’s welfare changes for failing to protect the most disadvantaged people in the constituency.

The National Housing Federation has estimated that 1,398 households in Angus will be hit by the ‘bedroom tax’, in addition to many who will be affected by a cap in benefits, despite rising living costs. Mr Weir said that nationally 105,000 households will lose an average £600 a year as a result and that working age benefits rises will be capped to one per cent for the next three years, reducing the total income of Scottish households by around £210 million by 2014-15.

Child benefit will also be frozen for the third year in a row, seeing, between 2011-12 and 2015-16, a family with two children receiving over £1,100 less than they would had it been uprated by RPI inflation. Scotland’s council tax budget will be cut by 10 per cent but households have been protected by the Scottish Government and COSLA plugging the £40 million funding gap.

Mr Weir said: “The ‘bedroom tax’ policy is inherently unfair. People on the lowest incomes are paying the price for structural problems affecting the supply of affordable housing. The bedroom tax is also unworkable; instead of addressing the underlying problems, it undermines the ability of social landlords to invest in the kind of affordable housing that is so badly needed.

“Locally the plain truth is that there is an insufficient supply of one-bedroomed properties and anyone moved out of council accommodation would almost certainly have to go into the private sector, which generally change higher rents. Angus Council have taken a strong and principled stance against evictions of those who are genuinely unable to pay their full rent because of the bedroom tax.”