The Scottish government have voted to make £50 million available to tenants to cover the cost of the bedroom tax. So far, I’ve seen very little discussion of this, especially not from any kind of critical perspective. I know the left have often been quick to claim defeats as victories, and I’m not keen to take the claims made by the politicians in Holyrood at face value, so I don’t want to rush to celebrate just yet. But if this is as good as it seems, it’s huge news – probably the single biggest victory in the class struggle in the UK we’ve seen since the start of the economic crisis. The No2BedroomTax campaign have a piece analysing the news, and highlighting the guarantee that “if the DWP says no, the Scottish Government will put in place a scheme to make this additional £12 million available to social landlords so that we need not see any evictions in Scotland this year as a result solely of the bedroom tax.”
If this is all just a cruel trick, and the Scottish government are counting on the tories to block their plans so they can get all the glory of being seen to oppose the bedroom tax without having to pay for it, then it needs to be exposed so we can see clearly where we stand and how much more still needs to be done. And if it’s not, and grassroots community organising and resistance really has forced the state to shell out millions to keep people in their homes, then we should be shouting this news from the rooftops and celebrating. Either way, this development will put the tax in the rest of the UK under even more pressure. Tenants should appeal, especially as a recent tribunal has found that a room has to be used as a bedroom in order to count as a bedroom so the whole idea of a tax on spare bedrooms might yet turn out to be completely unworkable, and local campaigns should pressure local councils into following Scotland’s lead and refusing to evict tenants for bedroom tax arrears. It’s grassroots pressure that forced the Scottish parliament to reverse their original refusal to help affected tenants, and that kind of pressure kept up across the rest of the country can turn the entire policy into an unenforceable mess.