Why I oppose the bedroom tax

I think the most unfair day of this Government's tenure has to be the 2012 Budget where they simultaneously cut the top rate of tax (levied only on income above £150,000 thus paid only by the richest 1% of people in our land) by 5% (£42,500 for every millionaire and rising the more they earn) whilst introducing the 'Bedroom Tax'. 

Essentially what the 'Bedroom Tax' does is it cuts the amount of housing benefit tenants of housing association homes or council houses can claim if you have 'spare' bedrooms. This has often cost people between £750 and £1,500 a year extra depending on if they have one or two 'spare' rooms. 528 households in Newbury constituency alone have been affected. 

I've met single people on this campaign trail who have had to move away from the community in which they knew everyone to a place where they feel less safe. I've met disabled people who have been affected and now live solely out of the reduced section at Tesco. One older woman said she didn't want to move to a 1 bedroom place because her granddaughter visits often and wouldn't have anywhere but a sofa to sleep on.  

This shouldn't be how Britain works. Cutting tax for the haves and slashing support for the have-nots. 

But I don't just oppose the Bedroom Tax because its cruel. I oppose it because its deeply flawed and actually doesn't save any money at all. 

1) There is a shortage of social housing with 1 or 2 bedrooms. People who want to downsize (as the policy is designed to encourage) cannot because there simply aren't the properties available meaning people are forced to pay more even if they are willing to comply with the logic behind the policy. 

2) 60% of homes affected are now in arrears because they can't afford to pay. This means tenants will be evicted from their homes. Councils, quite rightly, have a statutory duty to house anyone who is homeless so these people end up in Bed and Breakfast accommodation which costs the council more than the Bedroom Tax saves!

3) Even those who downsize into private rented accommodation find that the rents are higher and thus the Government's Housing Benefit Bill increases!

So there you have it. The Bedroom Tax is the cruellest, most ineffective and illogical piece of legislation I've ever seen. 

That's why I'm proud that if Labour win this election we will prioritise scrapping the Bedroom Tax in our first Budget.