Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Why the the 'Bedroom Tax' must be scrapped

The bedroom tax is one of the Tories' flagship welfare policies whereby people living in social housing are charged for having a spare bedroom – even if they have nowhere else to move.


There are 74031 people affected by the bedroom tax across the North West – the highest number in the UK – and it is going to cost £3,700 to each household affected over the next Parliament.


If I was being kind about the bedroom tax, I would say it was an example of Tory Welfare waste – a policy which could end up costing more than it saves by pushing more people into poverty. But being honest, I would describe it as an intentionally pernicious attack on people who have nowhere to go. Even The Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation has described the policy as "an unfair, ill-planned disaster that is hurting our poorest families."


It was never possible for this policy to work, which is why it is right to call it a tax, because it is unavoidable.


For instance just 4.5 per cent of affected tenants were able to move to smaller accommodation within the social sector – there is simply nowhere for them to go. The result of this is financial problems, with 60% of affected tenants in arrears after just 6 months, and the flipside of this is that 57% of affected tenants are cutting back on household basics as a result of having to pay the bedroom tax.


Abolishing the Bedroom Tax is a priority and we will do it as quickly as possible. We will fund any costs of cancelling the Bedroom Tax by reversing George Osborne's recent tax cut for hedge funds announced in Budget 2013; reversing George Osborne's shares for rights scheme which , has opened up a tax loophole, and will lead to £1bn being lost to the Exchequer according to the Office for Budget Responsibility ; and tackling disguised employment in the construction industry.


Two thirds of the households affected include a person with a disability and the tax also hits 60,000 carers. Is this really the Britain that we want to see? Where the Government is punishing the poorest, but giving huge tax cuts to millionaires?


Only a Labour government will abolish the Bedroom Tax. 771,000 people in social housing are already affected by the Bedroom Tax, and many more will become liable over the next Parliament if the Tories win.