Following the STV live Scottish Labour leadership debate last night, Richard Leonard announces that he will introduce legislation to end the brutal impact of the benefit cap. This is in contrast to the TV debate exchange about Anas Sarwar's vote as an MP for the Tories brutal welfare cap.
Richard Leonard will commit Scottish Labour to introducing a Bill which would ease the burden put on over 8000 households impacted by the cuts to housing benefit, amounting to over 10,500 adults and nearly 22,000 dependent children in Scotland. The Bill would see the Scottish Parliament use the Discretionary Housing Payment as the vehicle to mitigate the impact of the benefit cap.
Scottish Labour leadership candidate Richard Leonard said,
“The benefit cap is a callous policy that punishes the most vulnerable and poorest in our society. The fact that children are disproportionately hit by the benefit cap is a disgrace. In essence it is a policy that punishes people for being poor by making them even poorer. This is morally wrong.
“When leader, I will ensure Scottish Labour introduce a Bill to mitigate the impact of the benefit cap for the thousands of Scottish households impacted and pay them the money they are losing as a result of the cap.
“Scotland has power over much of our welfare system, so this should and could be done immediately and this life changing move would have an instant benefit for thousands of our poorest people across Scotland.“
This move is estimated to cost just over £11m and it will be paid via Discretionary Housing Payment.
A discretionary housing payment is an additional sum of money that can be paid to you if you receive housing benefit and require additional help to meet your housing costs and they can be paid weekly, or can be a lump sum, they may also be backdated.
The UK Supreme Court decided that the benefit cap denied children the protection defined in the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child. The court held that the cap deprived children of “the basic necessities of life” and made them “suffer from a situation which is not of their making and which they themselves can do nothing about”.
The Deputy President of the Supreme Court, Lady Hale, said in her judgment: “Claimants affected by the cap will, by definition, not receive the sums of money which the state deems necessary for them adequately to house, feed, clothe and warm themselves and their children.”