Equalities Secretary to seek UK assurances over benefits after bedroom tax goes

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Equalities Secretary Angela Constance is to seek assurances from the UK Government that it will not reduce the benefits of claimants in Scotland when the bedroom tax is abolished. 

Ms Constance will meet with the Department of Work and Pensions in London on Monday and stress that the abolition of the bedroom tax cannot be counted as a benefit income when it comes to the UK Government's benefit cap. 

Scottish Government ministers are concerned that when the bedroom tax is removed in Scotland, the UK Government will treat this as additional income for a household and impose the cap. 

The Scottish Government is to provide £47 million next year in an attempt to mitigate the bedroom tax and will seek to abolish it "as soon as practically possible". 

Ms Constance said: "The bedroom tax is an abhorrent charge which makes the lives of those already struggling to make ends meet even harder - there's no place for that in a modern Scotland.

"I make no secret of the fact we want to abolish it but what we also don't want to see is anyone's benefits being reduced again because by abolishing bedroom tax they end up over threshold for the UK benefit cap.

"It is not acceptable for the Scottish Government to give with one hand only for the UK Government to take away with the other.

"When these powers were transferred to Scotland there was a commitment there would be no claw back of benefits as a result of payment or eligibility decisions made by the Scottish Government.

"We need cast iron commitments from the UK Government that they will abide by those principles and that people won't be penalised further.

"This issue has been raised with UK ministers on a number of occasions and I look forward to discussing this further at Monday's meeting."