Argyll and Bute will be the fourth hardest hit local authority area in Scotland when the UK government’s so-called ‘bedroom tax’ comes into force in April.
So says constituency MSP Michael Russell, who has called advice from the Westminster coalition on how people should deal with planned housing benefit changes “arrogant and insulting”.
A report produced by the Scottish Government’s information centre says the changes being made by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition will hit nearly half of those in Argyll and Bute who receive housing benefit.
Mr Russell said: “The report confirms that almost half the tenants in Argyll and Bute who receive housing benefit and live in social rented housing will be affected by this unfair and punitive levy. That is 1,400 households (49 per cent).”
Analysts say these tenants will be hit in their pockets by between £27 and £65 per week. A single person or couple in a two bedroom house will see benefit reduced by 14 per cent, and if they have two spare rooms or more by 25 per cent.
Mr Russell continued: “This will cause undue hardship to countless families across the county and the picture is probably much worse as private rentals are not included in these figures.
“The inequity and injustice doesn’t stop there. Analysis shows that remote and rural areas are going to be hit harder with a 21 per cent higher proportion of households caught out.
“This is a scandal in itself and then we go onto discover that those with disabilities are to be among the hardest hit.
“There is something morally wrong when a Government preys on our most vulnerable people to repair the damage done to the UK economy by their failed austerity measures.
“I would like to challenge our Westminster MP to join me at a meeting with affected tenants and explain to them why the party that he is a member of, and supports and which shares power in the UK government, is - apart from removing £50m from the Scottish economy - imposing this undue hardship on people who are already struggling with increasing utility prices and rapidly rising living costs?
“I had never seen such arrogance since the introduction of the poll tax. But that’s before I saw the London government’s advice to those who may find themselves in genuine hardship.
“Their top five tips include ‘Move or take in a lodger’. This is unhelpful, disrespectful and downright arrogant and demonstrates this government’s sheer contempt for the people of Scotland and Argyll and Bute in particular.”