Bedroom Tax is worst Tory policy since the 1990s

Prime Minister David Cameron said at the weekend the Westminster system of government works for Scotland.

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I could not disagree more.

In fact, I would argue Mr Cameron is living proof it does not work for us at all. If it did, then surely Scotland would not have a Tory Prime Minister. After all, not once in my lifetime has Scotland voted Tory.

Yet, all too often, we end up being run by Tory governments and Prime Ministers we did not vote for and who implement policies we do not agree with.

For example, take the Under-Occupancy Rule, part of the welfare reforms being brought in from April, and which is better known as the 'bedroom tax'.

This is possibly the worst and cruellest policy to be introduced in Scotland since the poll tax in the 1990s.

Anyone on housing benefit deemed to have a spare room will, from April 1, have their benefit reduced.

It applies almost regardless of circumstances. You will be affected even if you are disabled or if you are a single parent who needs the extra room for your children coming to stay at weekends or holidays.

if you live with two children of different gender under 10 or two of the same gender under 16, you will not be allowed to let them have their own rooms – they will be forced to share.

If you can't afford to make up the cut in housing benefit from your own resources – maybe because you are in low paid work – and if you do not fancy having a stranger living in your home as a lodger, your only option will be to move, even if that means disrupting your children's education and taking them away from their friends.

And if the council or housing association you rent your home from does not have a smaller house to move you to, you will be forced into the much more expensive private rented sector or face homelessness.

It is an appalling policy and one I do not believe any Scottish Government would introduce.

But if it was a Scottish Government introducing it, it could be voted out at the next election.

As we know from experience, though, it is not that easy for Scotland to get rid of Westminster governments we do not support – the votes of the rest of the UK decide the matter and we simply have to put up with it.

The Scottish Government is doing everything it can to help people facing these horrendous welfare cuts being imposed by Westminster – and we will continue to do so.

But surely, the better long term option is not to let Westminster make the decisions in the first place?

Surely it would be much better to have these decisions made in our own Parliament and to have a system that makes sure we get the governments we vote for – and have the ability to get rid of them if they introduce policies that we don't like.

That is what independence for Scotland would give us – and we have the chance in the referendum next year to deliver it.

Local government

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