Bedroom tax is wrecking communities admits Coalition MP

August 17, 2013 4:40 pm 0 comments Views: 120


The bedroom tax will shatter rural communities and could end up costing more than its saves, an MP has warned.

Lib Dem Andrew George said the policy was “absurd” when there was already a shortage of housing in country areas.

The tax, introduced by the Coalition in April, docks the housing benefit of anyone with a spare bedroom.

Families must pay at least £14 a week more or find other accommodation.

Mr George said the reform could land taxpayers with a bigger bill as many families were having to move to more expensive private rented homes.

He added: “It is one of the absurdities of the system that it is supposed to save money but it is likely to land the taxpayer with a bigger bill.

“It will inevitably force rural tenants out of villages where they have lived for years, taking them away from their extended families, schools and support networks.

“It will take key workers away from areas where they perform vital roles.”

The comments by the MP for St Ives, Cornwall, come after a report by the Tory-dominated Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee concluded that it was “difficult to see how” the tax would benefit rural communities.

Figures from around the country appear to be bearing out the worrying predictions.

In Cornwall, the county’s largest housing association, Cornwall Housing, recently revealed that 370 of its 962 tenants hit by the bedroom tax had gone into rent arrears.

It is a similar picture in the north of Scotland, with the Highland Council reporting a 12% increase in rent arrears since the tax came into force.

In Northumberland the county council has warned it could face a £200,000 rent shortfall by the end of the financial year.

And in London, figures showed rent areas for Tory-run Westminster Council were up 18% since the tax was introduced.

Labour claimed the council had managed to rehouse only 31 of the 480 “over-occupying” tenants on Housing Benefit.

Voice of the Mirror

Five months after it was introduced the impact of the Bedroom Tax is now crystal clear.

Far from helping free up housing space, it has fractured communities, hit the vulnerable and caused a rise in rent arrears.

Opponents warned this would be the case but the Government arrogantly pressed on regardless.

In places where alternative accommodation is in especially short supply, families are being forced from their local areas.

As a result, children have to move schools, losing the security and friendship so essential to their upbringing.

In other instances, people who rely on the support of family and neighbours have been left with the choice of moving out or paying the hated surcharge.

Nor does the Bedroom Tax appear to be saving money.

Councils face rising rent arrears and having to place victims of the tax in more expensive private rented properties.

So there we have it: a policy that is both mean and meaningless.

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