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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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Bedroom tax petition handed to Carlisle MP

A petition signed by 1,200 people against the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ has been handed to Carlisle MP John Stevenson.

Bedroom tax protest photo
John Stevenson receives the petition from Jen Tunnicliff-Crichton

Carlisle Socialist Party has been collecting signatures since September, protesting against the Government’s decision to cut housing benefit for people deemed to be ‘under-occupying’ social housing.

Someone deemed to have two ‘spare’ bedrooms is £1,300 a year worse off.

The petition calls for the measure to be scrapped and for the Government to build 2m new council houses.

It was presented to Mr Stevenson by constituent Jen Tunnicliff-Crichton, 51.

She lives alone in a two-bedroomed flat in Botchergate and says she has lost £12 out of her £100-a-week income as a result of the bedroom tax – or the removal of the spare-room subsidy, as the Government prefers to call it.

She said: “It’s very difficult. I’ve been offered vouchers for a food bank because I can’t afford to feed myself.

“You have to manage the best you can with an ever-increasing cost of living.”

Conservative Mr Stevenson listened politely to a dozen placard-waving protestors who turned up at his office in Currie Street yesterday.

But he was not about to change his mind.

He said: “The removal of the spare-room subsidy was a policy started by the last Labour government for the private rented sector.

“I’ve always believed that policies should be consistent across the private and public sectors.

“There are nearly 400,000 people living in overcrowded accommodation.

“Is it right that they’re left in difficult circumstances when there is clearly spare capacity elsewhere?”

He added that Riverside, the main social housing provider in Carlisle, had told him that it had one-bedroom properties for tenants who wanted to downsize to avoid the cut in housing benefit.

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