Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Labour will scrap the 'Bedroom Tax'

The effects of the Bedroom Tax are being felt around the country, hitting over 660,000 claimants, 400,000 of whom are disabled, who are now losing £720 annual through no fault of their own. For the vast majority of those affected, there is nowhere smaller to move to, hitting vulnerable people through no fault of their own.

Polls conducted by ComRes indicate that in the last year, public support for the Bedroom Tax has been waning, as the majority of the public believe that the tax should be abandoned in its entirety. 55 percent of the population also believe that the "Bedroom Tax" shows how out of touch the Government is with the lives of real people (http://www.comres.co.uk/poll/898/the-people-bedroom-tax-poll-april-2013.htm).

Increasing, this cruel and unfair tax is unravelling as a policy. It has recently been discovered that a loophole in the Government's legislation exempts individuals who have been claiming housing benefit at the same property continuously since 1996. While the Government has claimed that only 3,000-5,000 people fall into this category, but Freedom of Information investigations carried out by the Shadow DWP team suggest that the number could be far greater and some housing experts believe that the figure could be well over 40,000.

Labour is seeking to prevent the government from closing the recently discovered loophole. Instead of scrambling to close loopholes in its own legislation and bringing more people within reach of the tax, the government should be reversing it. If this Tory-led government doesn't repeal the Bedroom Tax, the next Labour government will. To ensure that it can be reversed without any additional borrowing, funds have been earmarked from reversing recent tax cuts benefiting the wealthy and addressing the tax loss from disguised employment in construction. Labour will deal with under-occupation by funding local authorities who are able to help people with the costs of moving to suitable accommodation, using the funding set aside by the Government through Discretionary Housing Payments for dealing with the problems caused by the Bedroom Tax.