Either see below Gil most recent written questions to Parliament or select a category.
Gil Paterson (Clydebank and Milngavie) (SNP):
2. To ask the Scottish Government how it will deal with the impact of the so-called bedroom tax on housing associations. (S4O-01850)
The Minister for Housing and Welfare (Margaret Burgess): We have been working with a wide range of social landlords and other stakeholders since the United Kingdom Government announced its welfare reforms, to identify ways to lessen the impacts. We are investing in training and guidance for housing associations to help them deal with the bedroom tax and we will continue to support housing associations and tenants where we can.
We should not forget the impact on those who are most affected. The measure has an unfair impact on vulnerable Scottish households. Seventy-nine per cent of households that will be affected by the bedroom tax report an adult in the household with a disability.
I have written again to Lord Freud and Iain Duncan Smith to ask them to look at this again and abandon the bedroom tax part of the welfare reforms, as it continues to cause problems for the most vulnerable citizens in Scotland.
Gil Paterson: The minister is fully aware that the UK Government proposals are causing a great deal of confusion among tenants or councils and housing associations. Some people believe that the Scottish Government has the resources to stop the effects of the proposals in Scotland, despite the cuts that have been made to the Scottish budget. My question is straightforward: has the Scottish Government got the powers or resources to stop this happening in Scotland?
Margaret Burgess: The Government is doing what it can within its devolved powers to lessen the impact of the UK Government’s damaging welfare reforms. However, the member is right to point out that welfare budgets are reserved to Westminster and that the welfare reforms are not of our making. From our limited budget, we have already made up the shortfall in council tax benefit, added £9.2 million to the Scottish welfare fund and invested £5 million in advice services and we will continue to consider all reasonable ways of lessening the impact of reforms such as the bedroom tax on Scottish households and our economy.
As I have said, the member is correct: these reforms are not of our making and we are doing what we can to mitigate their impacts. However, the reality is that those impacts are becoming greater and greater; no sooner do we plug one hole than another one opens. Mr Paterson is absolutely right. With its devolved resources, the Scottish Government does not have the money to mitigate all the welfare reforms or the bedroom tax.
The only way we can get rid of the bedroom tax--
Margaret Burgess: Let me finish. The only way we can get rid of the bedroom tax is by trying—as I have done again this week—to persuade the UK Government to abandon it. It is recognised throughout the chamber that the tax is wrong and not fair in any way. The other alternative is to vote yes in the 2014 referendum so that we can take charge of the benefits system.
Note: This page contains both questions laid by Gil as MSP for West of Scotland (2007-2011, title starts "S3W/O") and Clydebank & Milngavie (2011-present, title starts "S4W/O")