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Thursday, 28 August 2014

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Bedroom tax

Imagine a government so incompetent that it designed a tax that hit soldiers but not prisoners.

Lee Sherriff photo
Lee Sherriff

Or a department so useless it punished foster parents for the crime of giving a home to a child in need. Imagine ministers so out of touch they had to be told by others their plans hurt tens of thousands of pensioners - because they didn't know.

Welcome to today's Department for Work and Pensions. From the crack team that gave us a Work Programme that is officially worse than doing nothing, we now have a Bedroom Tax that we suspect may cost more than it saves.

Labour supports sensible welfare reform but the bedroom tax is crazy.

Every week I'm out knocking on doors talking to people across the city and this tax is causing real worry and anguish. Riverside housing say over 1,000 of their tenants will be hit by the change and one in five have already asked to move.

Ministers claim they are trying to solve under-occupancy but David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith have been forced to admit that it is impossible for their plans to work because there aren’t enough smaller homes for families to move to.

It is in black and white in their own impact assessment – they know this policy won’t work. So all the Bedroom Tax will achieve is making some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in society event poorer. Two thirds of these families, by the way, are home to someone with a disability and the National Housing Federation say 200,000 are receiving Disability Living Allowance.

From the Guardian to The Sun, everyone is warning the government that this policy is a mess, but ministers are burying their heads in the sand.

The scheme is now so chaotic it could actually end up costing more than it saves in many parts of the country. If families are made homeless or pushed into expensive private rented accommodation the tax payer could actually be left with a higher bill – and still the problem of under occupancy will not be solved.

People living in council or housing association homes who receive housing benefit will be hit. This means in Carlisle people affected will be on average worse off by £14 a week when the bedroom tax comes into force. The tragedy is this government’s plans won’t even succeed on their own terms. Everyone agrees the welfare bill needs to come down but this government is now expected to spend £13bn more than planned because of they are totally failing to get Britain’s economy moving again.

The best way to bring down the benefits bill is to get people into jobs. That’s why Labour is calling for a tough but fair compulsory jobs guarantee. We would offer anyone who has been out of work for more than two years a real job – one that they would be required to take, no ifs and no buts.

The Bedroom Tax is now in total disarray. Ministers must now admit they have got this horribly wrong and think again – before it’s too late.

By Lee Sherriff
Published: March 5, 2013

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Have your say

Those privileged people who have council houses with spare rooms should spare a thought for the under privileged people in council houses who are over crowded. Come on fair is fair if your family is grown up and have fled the nest why shouldn´t you move to a smaller home and give the younger families a chance.

Posted by Donald Allardyce on 15 May 2013 at 19:45

I am on Job Seekers alowence, which isnt much at all. I am a disabild person who already can not afford to see his own doctor. I can not even afford the hospital appointments because of this bedroom tax. I am forced to walk when i go to sign on. Even though i am not supose walk far. A lot of us have to do this after being kicked off the dissability.

Posted by Anthony Wilkes on 9 April 2013 at 10:10

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