Jeane Freeman Pledges to Consider Benefits CAP Action

We are happy to reproduce this statement issued by the North Edinburgh campaign against homelessness and “We Are all Daniel Blake“:

Jeane Freeman, Scottish Government minister for Social Security, has responded to campaigners’ demands by pledging to consider fully mitigating the Benefit Cap cuts to Housing Benefit. In response to the evictions caused by the Benefit Cap cuts campaigners have occupied council buildings and Ruth Davidson’s office.

Jeane Freeman’s pledge, made at a meeting in Muirhouse, north Edinburgh on 15th May, could mean the Scottish Government paying sufficient ring-fenced funding to local councils for Discretionary Housing Payments, to fully cover the Westminster Benefit Cap cuts and stop the consequent evictions. Campaigners at the meeting, organised by “We are all Daniel Blake”, pressed the minister to take this action.

She promised to investigate and consider implementing the same full mitigation for the Benefits Cap as the Scottish Government has already done for the Bedroom Tax.

Campaigners then pointed out that they had written to the Minister making this very demand in November and her office had replied turning down the proposal. Jeane Freeman repeated her promise to investigate and consider the measure.

The extra amount needed to fully mitigate the Benefit Cap has been calculated at 3 million pounds – very affordable in terms of the Scottish Government budget, say campaigners. This would mean Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) being paid indefinitely and automatically, to fully cover the Benefits Cap. Activists urge that simultaneously rent controls are needed to curtail exorbitant private sector rents.

Pauline Nicol Bowie from Low Income Families Together (LIFT) stressed that the current DHP system had not been working as payments were being paid late and not in full.

“LIFT has a good working relationship with the staff at DHP but it’s too late for the families already evicted or facing eviction. Applications were refused, or only partially met, or only paid for a few months then stopped, all resulting in rent arrears and evictions. Now DHP is being awarded until the end of the financial year 2018-2019, but again this is too late for the families already evicted.”

Young mums from the All About Me group presented a workshop at the 15th May event where they described the traumatic effects of evictions on their children and how they occupied the Council Offices and City Chambers to demand housing for a family who had been evicted due to the Benefits Cap.

Addressing the meeting on the key aspects of the new social security system in Scotland, Jeane Freeman stated that the new set-up would be based on dignity and respect. Those present welcomed the aspects of the new system which were improvements on the increasingly inhuman Westminster system (while anti-poverty campaigners have also highlighted important improvements needed to the bill).

A spokesperson for the North Edinburgh Campaign Against Homelessness, demanding homes for all, stressed:

“There is no dignity and respect when families are forced out of their homes. We urge Jeane Freeman to ensure all Councils are paid sufficient ring-fenced funds to fully mitigate the Benefit Cap – it is inhuman that families are being put out on the streets due to these cuts. She and the Scottish Government have the power to end this suffering – they must use it.”

For more information contact Pauline on 07758 251 801

 

Further Notes:

Report on mitigating the Benefits Cap in Scotland

 

 

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