Wednesday, 14 December 2016

My LT column. Tories to bring in Bedroom Tax for Pensioners

So the Tories are to bring in a Bedroom Tax for pensioners! Do you want me to repeat that? They have also said they will no longer protect pensions after 2020. The the nations poor finances under the Tories the reason why. They are starting with grandparents who have the spare bedroom for the grandchildren.

I’m all for going after scroungers but non-scroungers (aka people who need genuine help) need a leg up the ladder, not a snake all the way to the very bottom.

A few weeks ago, an Independent investigation revealed that the Government planned to take at least £300 a year from older people under a new ‘bedroom tax’. The plan would deem certain homes to be ‘under-occupied’ and then cap housing benefit at a lower rate of those pensioners in social housing or in need of Pension credit and housing benefit. The sort of people who may be 90 and fought for the country during WW2. We promised them Homes for Heroes in 1945.

Across the UK, there are over 1 million social tenants, aged 65 and over, who are supported by Housing Benefit. And in my constituency Hyndburn, there are about 1,500 pensioners who depend on this support. I suspect the figure for Blackburn is little higher. Thats 3,000+ pensioners paying for Tory failures. Having the housing benefit cut or being thrown out, evicted for non payment of rent.

Here’s the detail. The north will suffer far more greatly than the south, Tory areas likely to be little affected. Not so in pensioners in poorer areas. Indeed, one housing association has found that pensioners in the North could lose £1,700 a year. It’s a textbook Tory manoeuvre: keep Conservative areas out of harm’s way while putting the costs on Labour seats. Forget about pensioners.

Although the Government has already delayed the imposition of the measure, due to a public outcry, it seems intent on bringing it in from April 2019, meaning that pensioners who sign tenancies after April 2016 will be affected.

The Government should be supporting poorer, vulnerable pensioners rather than taking £1,700 from their pockets. Many are trying to make ends meet in the economic chaos over which the Tories are presiding: they will not be able to afford such a cost.

For a Party that claims to represent older people, the Conservatives have failed them miserably. Bedroom Tax for pensioners. Who’d have thought it?