Keir Starmer should scrap the so-called “bedroom tax” if Labour wins the next election, the SNP has said.
The party has come under pressure from anti-poverty campaigners in recent weeks after Starmer said a Labour government wouldn’t scrap the two-child benefit cap.
Now the SNP is pushing the Labour leader to commit to scrapping the under-occupancy penalty, described by opponents as the “bedroom tax”.
The policy, which is mitigated in Scotland by the Scottish Government, sees benefit claimants have their payments reduced if they have an unoccupied bedroom.
New figures published by the House of Commons Library show more than 500,000 households were impacted by the policy in the UK as of May last year, including 374,366 in England, 97,425 in Scotland and 32,497 in Wales.
David Linden, the SNP’s social justice spokesman, called on Starmer to commit to scrapping the measure if he wins the keys to Downing Street after the next election.
He said: “Sir Keir Starmer must admit whether the pro-Brexit Labour Party is secretly planning to keep the Tory bedroom tax, which cut the incomes of almost 100,000 low-income households in Scotland last year – and more than half a million households across the UK.
“It’s clearer by the day that the SNP is the only party offering real change with independence and real help with the cost of living.
“In contrast, (Rishi) Sunak and Starmer are lurching further to the right and taking money away from millions of households across Scotland and the UK.
“People in Scotland are crying out for change from the damage of Westminster control – but all they are getting from the Tories and pro-Brexit Labour Party are more cuts to household incomes, more cuts to public services, and more long-term decline with Brexit.”
The Alba Party echoed those comments on Friday, with its Westminster leader Neale Hanvey saying: “If Starmer’s logic is that he won’t scrap the Tory two-child cap then it is increasingly likely that if in government his Labour Party wouldn’t scrap the bedroom tax either.
“It’s time for the Labour Party to come clean, if they get into government will they scrap the bedroom tax or keep it?”
The Labour Party has been approached for comment.