Saturday, 16 November 2013

Move to end Bedroom Tax

The Bedroom Tax – controversial UK legislation that has imposed cuts to Housing Benefit for thousands of already-struggling people - could be abolished if MPs support a House of Commons Motion on Tuesday (November 12).

North Ayrshire activists in the Scottish Socialist Party have campaigned locally against the Bedroom Tax, carrying out street-stalls and holding public meetings.  This culminated in the party’s North Ayrshire organiser, Richie Venton, lodging a petition calling on the UK Labour Party, the principle opposition party at Westminster, to table a Motion in the House of Commons that would give MPs the opportunity to scrap the tax that has become reviled the length and breadth of the country.

Labour leader Ed Miliband told his recent party conference that if Labour were elected to form the UK Government in 2015, they would abolish the Bedroom Tax.  However, Richie Venton and the SSP argued that “People who have had their benefit slashed cannot afford to wait another two-years in the off-chance that Labour might form the next UK Government”.  Lodging his petition last month on the website, Richie Venton said, “Labour must act now, not in a couple of years’ time.  Thousands of people are suffering severe hardship because of the Bedroom Tax and politicians of all parties at Westminster should take action now to end that suffering.”

Labour has now tabled a Motion - ‘Abolition of the Bedroom Tax’ – which will be debated in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

The Liberal Democrats, junior partners in the UK Coalition Government with the Tories, recently passed a Motion at their Federal Conference in Glasgow calling for the Bedroom Tax to be scrapped.  If Lib Dem MPs were to back their party’s decision when they vote on Tuesday, the Bedroom Tax could be consigned to history.  Labour and SNP MPs will vote to abolish the tax.

Commenting on the Motion to be debated in London on Tuesday, Richie Venton said, “A mighty collective sigh of relief will be heard across the country from 660,000 households hammered by this vicious theft of benefits if MPs do the right thing and scrap this vindictive tax.”

Mr Venton noted that the SSP’s petition had helped “force Labour into putting a Motion to Westminster,” adding, “In theory, this could mean the Bedroom Tax will be scrapped next week - if enough pressure can be applied to MPs from all parties before the vote.”

North Ayrshire & Arran Labour MP Katy Clark is a long-standing critic of the Bedroom Tax.  Last month Ms Clark told the3towns, “As time goes on the disastrous impact the Bedroom Tax is having on Scottish communities becomes more and more apparent.  Research from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities has shown there has been a fourfold increase in the number of households applying for a discretionary housing payment and many are being forced into rent arrears.  In North Ayrshire 71-percent of households hit by the Bedroom Tax are being forced into rent arrears.”

the3towns previously revealed that, as of September, North Ayrshire Council has paid-out £285,312 in Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) since the Tory-Lib Dem UK Government introduced the controversial Bedroom Tax in April.

DHPs can be made to tenants facing hardship as a result of their Housing Benefit being cut because the Westminster Government says they have more bedrooms in their home than they need.  Under the legislation, described by UK Ministers as “ending the spare room subsidy”, tenants have their benefit cut by 14% if they have one room more in their home than the government says they need: two ‘extra’ rooms results in a cut of 25%.

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