There’s a really nasty and pernicious piece of Westminster legislation winging its way to Perthshire which will impact on thousands of households across the county. Welcome to the “bedroom tax”- a piece of legislation that almost equals the poll tax its unfairness and downright nastiness.
Essentially, the Westminster government has identified one million “under-used” bedrooms in social and council housing across the UK and it wants them filled, reckoning this could save £500 million a year.
What they actually mean by “spare” and “under-utilised” bedrooms is the root of this problem and the cause of real concern. For example, if you have two kids of the same gender and under 15 in their own room, the Westminster government think that’s a luxury too far and has to come to an end. If you have a boy and a girl under nine in their own rooms that will also have to end. Gone will be bedrooms reserved for disabled children or adults who spend part of their time being cared for by relatives. Gone too will be the room for a son or daughter serving his or her country in the armed forces.
Your choice to remedy this self-indulgence will be to pay up to an extra £600 a year in rent from income you don’t have or move to a smaller home. You also have the option to take in a lodger.
This is Government social engineering on an almost industrial scale and whole communities could be torn asunder by the sheer range of those that it covers.
Now, there are issues with housing benefit that need to be resolved, but once again it is the homes of the hard pressed, striving, marginal and vulnerable that are left to pick up the slack, the usual Tory way.
Last February in the House of Commons I, of course, voted against this legislation. So did 82% of Scottish MPs. The only Scots who supported this were the sole Scottish Tory and his Liberal friends. This, of course, did not matter a jot as we were outvoted by a Tory-led Government that no-one voted for in Scotland.
And here is the moral of the story. We can stop a Tory-led Government that we didn’t vote for imposing unwanted legislation that makes the lives of our fellow citizens more difficult. But we can only do this by taking responsibility for these issues in Scotland ourselves. We can do this by saying “Yes” in the referendum. There is no other way.