Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Jackie Baillie wants the Scottish Parliament to break the Law.

The amount paid out between April and November 2013 was almost four times higher than the total DHPs paid in 2012/13, when just under £4m was claimed. 45,000 households have been helped over this period ( April to November 2013) out of the 80,000 households who are 'at risk' of defaulting on their rent solely because of the under occupancy penalty.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "That money  has enabled councils to top up their Discretionary Housing Payments to the maximum amount that Westminster legislation allows - and help hard-pressed households across Scotland. We are also providing a further £20m for next year so that we can continue this vital help."

Labour's social justice spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: "The easiest way to mitigate the effects of bedroom tax would be for the SNP government to back my Bedroom Tax Bill and provide the £50m needed to cover the full cost of the bedroom tax."

In other words Jackie Baillie does not understand the legislation which the Welfare Reform Act (2012) put in place on the under occupancy penalty, the application of DHP in such cases nor that the Scottish Government have put in place the maximum the UK Government benefit regulations allow for DHP support in Scotland, for 2013/14, by Holyrood - £20 million.

It is clear the only way to do what Jackie Baillie wants in her bill (the mythical £50 million) is to vote 'Yes' so Scotland controls its own welfare provision and funding. Unless there is a change in the regulations of the Westminster Welfare Reform Act 2012, Baillie's £50 million injection to DHP would be contrary to the Scotland Act 1998 as it would mean Scotland was usurping a reserved Westminster Parliamentary power ( Welfare) in breach of sections 5 and 30 of the Scotland Act. No wonder the SNP are not supporting Ms Baillie's Bill at Holyrood.

The reality is Jackie Baillie's position on DHP and the under occupancy penalty, via her bill at Holyrood, is illegal under current UK Welfare legislation and clearly another example of why Scotland is not better together. Ms Baillie would be better served lobbying the likes of Jim Murphy, Davidson, Sawar, Curran, Darling and Brown to get the UK Welfare Reform Act (2012) changed.

Wait, we know how that turned out - this self serving Labour cabal did not bother to turn up for the vote which could have begun to effect the change Ms Bailie is bleating on about. Some think this was due to another bout of infighting between the Unions and the Blairites for control of Ed Milliband's choker chain.

The poor can suffer while Labour continue their civil war.


  1. If Jackie Baillie's Bill was "illegal" in the way you say it would have been ruled incompetent by the Presiding Officer and would never have been placed before the Scottish Parliament. The proposed Bill stays within the law because it does not include provision for any changes to Discretionary Housing Payments. It deals only with a suggested amendment to the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 which will have the effect of prohibiting eviction for arrears of rent caused by the bedroom tax.

    The proposed Bill is mischievous in itself. But what is even more mischievous is the deceptive way in which Jackie Baillie and her accomplices are talking in public about the proposed measure. They never mention the Bill without also mentioning their demand for additional funding from the Scottish Government to fully cover the cost of the Bill to tenants. Effectively subsidising an iniquitous policy first introduced by British Labour and now wielded with unseemly relish by their Tory allies.

    They also say, or misleadingly imply, that the Scottish Government has the power to end the bedroom tax now. This is, of course, completely untrue. But Ms Ballie is not known for her rigour in being honest with the electorate.

    As so often happens the British parties get away with lying to the people of Scotland because the media refuses to hold them to account. They are never asked the awkward questions.

    Where is the £50 million to fund the bedroom tax to come from?

    If this measure is costed by British labour, why is it not included in Baillie's Bill?

    Where will the money come from to fund "Bedroom Tax 2" - the next attack on Scotland's poor and vulnerable by British Labour's Tory allies?

    If the Scottish Parliament has the power to abolish the bedroom tax, why does Baillie's Bill not seek to do that?

  2. Peter - How do you square the maximum allowed by the current DWP regulations in support of DHP is £20 million from Holyrood with Baillie's £50 million claim for her 'bill'?

    Either Ms Sturgeon is telling porkies about the maximum the Scottish Government can put into DHP or Ms Baillie is telling porkies about the legality of the Scottish Government putting £50 million into DHP.

    On current track record I would tend to trust Ms Sturgeon more than Ms Baillie (who has been shown to be a serial abuser of reality on numerous occasions on a number of important subjects). Either Welfare Regulation is reserved for Westminster or it is not.

    The only answer that can justify Ms Baillie's Bill from not being rejected is it will not actually do what she is claiming it will do because under the Scotland Act (sections 5 and 30) it is outwith the Scottish Parliament's scope to change or alter the regulations on DHP and Scottish Government maximum levels of contribution as the regulation is reserved for Westminster.

    So my assertion that the only way Baillie's bill could work, as she claims, is if the Scottish Government put more money into DHP in spite of the Westminster controlled contribution restriction.

    I'm off to trawl through Baillie's Bill to see how she squares off this particular circle.