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Lochaber MSP Kate Forbes MSP has highlighted the millions being spent by the Scottish Government on mitigating UK Government welfare cuts, after new figures revealed that a total of over £2 million was paid to people in the Highlands under the Discretionary Housing Payment scheme.
In the Highlands, more than 5,600 people in receipt of housing benefit or Universal Credit were given additional assistance towards housing costs by the Scottish Government.
Ms Forbes said: ‘A massive £1.4 million was spent solely on mitigating the bedroom tax in the region during the period April to September of this year.’
The Discretionary Housing Payment scheme provides financial assistance towards housing costs for those claiming housing benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit.
Between April and September, local authorities in Scotland made a total 100,635 awards under the DHP Scheme, with a total value of £56.9 million.
Ms Forbes added: ‘These figures are really important in light of the unseen poverty in the Highlands and Islands.
‘In an area where costs are higher and rurality adds another burden on families, it is important that we protect people from the very worst impacts of UK Government welfare reform.
‘I believe that the welfare system should treat people with respect and dignity, and housing is one area where that is absolutely critical.
‘Behind closed doors, some families in the Highlands have very difficult decisions to make between heating, eating or anything else.
‘I see some of them in my constituency office, worried and concerned about their kids, their arrears or their future. It is important that the welfare state protects the most vulnerable.’