Bedroom Tax leading to “extreme poverty” says Emma

June 24, 2014

131206 - ELB Autumn Statement smallOn Monday Emma raised the case of a constituent affected by the Coalition’s Bedroom Tax.  Because of this Coalition policy, Emma’s constituent has seen her benefits cut to the point where she lives on less than a pound a day. Emma told the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, that the policy was unjustifiable.

Speaking at Work and Pensions Questions, Emma said:

“My local Citizen’s Advice Bureau were contacted by a young single woman hit by the Bedroom Tax who, after rent and utility bills, has 84p a day left to spend on food and toiletries. With eight households to each available one bedroom property in my area, moving is not an option.  How can the Secretary of State continue to try and justify a policy that results in such extreme poverty?” 

The Secretary of State said that money was available through Discretionary Housing Payments to help those in “particularly difficult circumstances” but that the policy was aimed at “people who are living in accommodation that they do not fully utilise” and was needed to tackle housing waiting lists.

You can read Emma’s question and the Secretary of State’s response by clicking here.

But as Emma pointed out to the Secretary of State, there are over eight households in South Tyneside hit by the Bedroom Tax for every smaller home available, making it impossible for people like her constituent to move.  These people lose nearly £9 per week on average, with some losing more than £15.

During Emma’s by-election campaign last year she asked people in South Shields to choose her 5th election pledge, and people overwhelmingly voted for scrapping the Bedroom Tax.

Last November Emma led a debate in Westminster Hall on the Bedroom Tax, and the effect it has not just on vulnerable people in areas like South Shields, but on housing supply and the ability of councils to build and maintain new homes.  You can read this debate by clicking here.

“The Secretary of State has ignored the facts once again.  In South Tyneside there simply aren’t enough one bedroom homes to go around, which means people like my constituent are hit by the Bedroom Tax through no fault of their own.

“He claims that Discretionary Housing Payments can solve my constituent’s problem, but these are supposed to be a temporary measure to support people looking for a new home – they are not a long-term solution for people who have nowhere else to move to.

“The Bedroom Tax is a total failure.  It drives people into extreme poverty, it stops councils from building new homes and it doesn’t even tackle the issue of overcrowding.  It must be repealed immediately, and if this Government won’t do that then a Labour government will.”

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