Anas Sarwar: Future Labour government 'will abolish bedroom tax'

A future Labour government will abolish the "bedroom tax", a senior party figure has confirmed.

Anas Sarwar, deputy leader of the Scottish Labour Party, made the pledge during a debate on STV's Scotland Tonight programme.

Mr Sarwar, MP for Glasgow Central, was debating Deputy First Minister and SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon on Thursday night on the subject of welfare and Scottish independence.

Asked about the UK Government's housing benefit cut, which has been branded a "bedroom tax" by political opponents, Mr Sarwar said: "If we had a UK Labour government, we wouldn't have the bedroom tax because we wouldn't have introduced it.

"If we had a Scottish Labour government, we would have mitigation of the bedroom tax, so we wouldn't have the impact."

Pressed by Scotland Tonight presenter John Mackay on whether a future Labour government would repeal the "bedroom tax", the Labour MP replied: "We have been clear. If we were in power tomorrow, we would abolish the bedroom tax."

During Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, Opposition leader Ed Miliband was invited by Prime Minister David Cameron to declare whether Labour would abolish the policy if it won the next election. Mr Miliband was not drawn on an answer.

Mr Sarwar was asked whether his comments were in accordance with his UK leader's policy stance. He repeated: "No, we have been clear that if we were in government tomorrow, we would abolish the bedroom tax."

The "bedroom tax", which the Coalition government characterises as an end to a pre-exisiting "spare room subsidy", is part of Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith's welfare reforms.

It reduces housing benefit for social rented tenants by 14% for those with a spare bedroom and by 25% for those with two or more extra rooms.

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