Deeside councillor slams ‘a wasted opportunity’

Aberdeenshire Council
Aberdeenshire Council

A Deeside councillor has slammed a “wasted opportunity” by Aberdeenshire Council to oppose the controversial ‘bedroom tax.’

The opposition SNP group put forward a motion at last week’s full meeting calling for a letter to be written to the UK Government)asking for welfare reforms to be scrapped.

Members of the ruling coalition voted down the motion, calling it a “political stunt.”

The Under Occupancy Charge, more commonly called the ‘‘Bedroom Tax,’’ stipulates that council tenants deemed to have more bedrooms than they need face a cut in benefits.

Single-bedroom council properties are at a premium, however, and many can’t find a smaller place to live.

Banchory and Mid-Deeside SNP councillor, Linda Clark, said: “I can’t say I never want people to move into smaller houses, I do, but we need to get the houses first.

‘‘I feel that we could have put a strong message from Aberdeenshire Council that we want this scurrilous tax gone. This isn’t about gesture politics, it was a wasted opportunity to tell Westminster that this wasn’t on.

‘‘I didn’t get into politics to ditch the vulnerable.”

The SNP say it would scrap the charge if Scotland became independent in next year’s referendum.

The two Labour members joined their Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Independent administration allies in opposing the motion despite them opposing the Under Occupancy Charge nationally.

Leader Ed Milliband said previously he would abolish the “vicious and iniquitous bedroom tax” if Labour won the next general election.

Labour group leader Cllr Alison Evison said: “This was a significant amendment which drew attention to the fact that the Scottish Government has powers to mitigate the effects of the Bedroom Tax but is not currently doing so.

‘‘Labour has, of course, made clear that it will bin the bedroom tax. However, given the current opposition of other parties, it’s crucial that everyone works at both Government and local level to support all tenants who are currently being adversely effected.

‘‘We cannot wait until there is a change of government before helping people in need. Action is essential now.’’