Council Tax: Why Scotland Needs a New Way to Implement Radical Reforms
Bella Caledonia, by Mark Stephens
I do not share the pessimism of commentators who believe that devolution has been a failure and that neither the new powers, nor independence will result in a different society. When I presented an overview of housing policies in Scotland to an London audience recently, they appeared to think I had arrived from Planet Zog. Here’s why. In Scotland, the Government is committed to increasing the output of social rented housing. In England all subsidies have been withdrawn. Scotland has the most extensive set of enforceable rights for homeless people in the world. In England homeless people can now be housed in insecure private rentals. England has the bedroom tax. Scotland currently mitigates it, and shortly will abolish it. Private tenancies will remain insecure in England. In Scotland they new legislation will make them significantly more secure. In England private rents remain uncontrolled. In Scotland provision for their rent regulation is being introduced. In Scotland the “Right to Buy” is about to be abolished. In England it has been “reinvigorated” as the UK Government tries to extend it to housing associations. These reforms represent huge differences, although the full devolution of Housing Benefit impedes a comprehensive restructuring of subsidies and will become a real political challenge for Scottish housing policy.
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