BEDROOM TAX: My article for our local newspapers

Bedroom-Tax-affecting-private-landlordsThe Bedroom Tax is leaving families up and down this country with nowhere to go and on the edge of spiralling debt. These people simply can’t wait until the next Labour government in 2015 for it to be repealed. They need it repealed now.

That is why I voted with our Shadow Work & Pensions Secretary, Rachel Reeves and other colleagues several weeks ago to do just that.

The Labour Party promised to repeal the tax in government, and because we know that in these tough financial times we can’t borrow more to pay for social security, we’ve set out a clear plan to pay for the repeals by cutting down on tax loop holes and avoidance.

The people of Tameside and Stockport can see what this Tory-led government’s policy is doing; and it’s doing it to the wrong group of people. At the same time as cutting taxes for the wealthiest, they are penalising disabled people and their loved ones that work so hard caring for them. Let us not forget that last year, a High Court judge called the Bedroom Tax inherently discriminatory, but then admitted that they could do nothing about it. The Labour Party’s policy to repeal this tax isn’t only fair but makes sense. The Tory-led government should follow our lead.

But they set a new low last week by admitting they made a mistake in drafting their legislation – and then moving quickly to close their loophole, meaning that many families who thought they were exempt from this punitive measure now have to begin paying it.

The Government claim this loophole only affects around 3,000-5,000 people but some housing experts and charities believe the figure could be upwards of 40,000. A Freedom of Information request by Labour’s team in Parliament also suggests the number affected by this loophole is much higher than the Government claims.

Yet again the Tories and Lib Dems have failed to listen to the people of Britain who know the Bedroom Tax has been a fiasco from the beginning. Instead of scrapping the hated Bedroom Tax they have made it apply to thousands more households. Rather than closing loopholes in a failed policy, the government should simply scrap the Bedroom Tax. If they don’t, a Labour government will.

Two thirds of all victims of the Bedroom Tax are disabled. That is 400,000 people. That is why I am so firmly committed to repealing the Bedroom Tax.

Our local MPs sitting on the Government benches all voted for the Bedroom Tax. We know exactly where our local Lib Dem and Conservative parties stand on this issue. They stand against the thousands of local people being clobbered by the Bedroom Tax.

Stand with us in 2015. Stand for common sense and fairness.

Variations of this article first appeared in the Tameside Reporter and the Stockport Express.

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