Bedroom Tax Cruel and Unfair
The Bedroom Tax is a cruel and unfair policy and the Government should repeal it. If they do not, the Leader of the Opposition has stated that a future Labour Government will do so.
The bedroom tax will hit 660,000 people including over 400,000 disabled people and 60,000 carers. For the vast majority of those affected, there is nowhere similar to move to and the average family affected will lose £720 a year.
I know how seriously the bedroom tax is affecting people in our local community and across the country and that many local authorities and housing associations are being put in impossible situations. There is also a risk that the bedroom tax will cost more than it saves.
That is why I believe the bedroom tax should be scrapped immediately. I supported an Opposition motion in November 2013 which urged the Government to repeal the bedroom tax and I am also supporting a Private Members Bill - the Housing Benefit and Universal Credit in the Social Housing Sector (Regular Payments) Bill - which would ensure people receiving Housing Benefit and Universal Credit would not be penalised for the number of bedrooms in their property.
Unfortunately the Government remain committed to the bedroom tax and, as you may be aware, have recently introduced regulations to close a loophole that currently exempts people from the bedroom tax who have lived in and claimed housing benefit for the same property continuously since 1996.
The Government claim this loophole only affects around 3,000-5,000 people but some housing experts and charities believe the figure could be upwards of 40,000. A Freedom of Information request by the Shadow Frontbench also suggests the number affected by this loophole is much higher than the Government claim.
I certainly do not believe the Government should be trying to ensure more people are affected by the bedroom tax and that is why I supported an Opposition motion on 26th February to annul these regulations. Unfortunately the Government voted against this motion and remain committed to this unfair policy.
I do, however, welcome the Leader of the Opposition's commitment that a future Labour Government will repeal the bedroom tax and pay for this by reversing the Government's planned tax cuts for hedge funds, cancelling the 'shares for rights' scheme and by cracking down on the tax lost through disguised employment in the construction industry.