SNP Disappointment as Aberdeenshire Councillors Refuse to Rule Out Bedroom Tax Evictions

>> 25 April 2013

Aberdeenshire SNP Shadow Council Leader Councillor Hamish Vernal has expressed his disappointment following the defeat of a cross party bid to lift the threat of eviction from families affected by the 'Bedroom Tax'.

The motion, proposed by Cllr Vernal and seconded by Democratic Independent Cllr Paul Johnston, which would have prevented tenants being evicted for rent arrears arising from the Bedroom Tax, was debated today (25 April) in Woodhill House at a full meeting of Aberdeenshire Council. However, Conservative, Lib Dem, Labour and Independent Group members united to vote against the move, which fell by 34 votes to 30.

Speaking following the vote, Cllr Vernal expressed his regret at the outcome, but praised the overall tone of the debate and the manner in which it was conducted:

“While we’re obviously disappointed that the motion didn’t pass, the debate was a positive one, helped by the fact it stayed focused on what Aberdeenshire Council can do to help those affected by the bedroom tax", he said.

“We recognise that Council officers are already doing much to try and lessen the impact of Westminster’s welfare reforms. However, by passing this proposal, we could have copper-bottomed the existing support on offer and given some of the most vulnerable in society an important extra safeguard."

Cllr Vernal continued:

“It’s unfortunate that it failed to pass by such a narrow margin, and that the threat of eviction still remains a possibility for those most affected by the Bedroom Tax. It’s particularly disappointing that the two Labour members decided not to support a policy in Aberdeenshire which is identical to the one which their party is implementing in Edinburgh City Council together with SNP coalition partners.

“Ultimately, local authorities can only do so much to stave off the worst effects of the Lib/Con welfare reforms coming from Westminster. The best way to get rid of the bedroom tax is for the Scottish Government to take control over tax and benefits through a ‘Yes’ vote in 2014.”

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