Housing benefit for over 900 households in Moray was reduced as a result of UK Government welfare reforms.
The figure was revealed this week in a report to the Policy and Resources Committee at Moray Council – and sparked condemnation from a local councillor who hit out at policies that had greatest effect on low-income households, the sick and the disabled.
SNP Councillor Gary Coull said: “We have repeatedly criticised the so-called welfare reforms because they are fundamentally wrong.
“They are hitting low income households, the sick and the disabled – they penalise people for having an ‘extra’ bedroom, yet there is no alternative housing choice for many of those affected. How can that be even remotely fair?”
The opposition spokesman on communities at the local authority said over 900 households were being hit at a time when less than 300 homes were being allocated each year by Moray Council – and only a small number of these was suitable for people who want to downsize.
Government ministers insist that the reasoning behind the ‘Bedroom Tax’ was to force people living in homes larger than they required to downsize – but that, according to Councillor Coull, is a flawed policy.
He said: “It is abundantly clear that, as a result of this Westminster policy, the least well off are now in an even worse position.
“Moray Council and the Scottish Government have had to put in significant support measures to try to mitigate this and it is harder for people to afford basic things like rent resulting in arrears to the Council.
“This has just been the UK Government transferring pressure to other parts of the system rather than dealing with the underlying issues of house prices and lack of housing supply. Talk about abdicating responsibility!”
Moray Council has used additional funding from the Scottish Government to mitigate the worse effects of the welfare reforms. This included funding of £74,000 for a new online advice service aimed at helping people in Moray deal with the changes to benefits.