When the history of the current Government is written, of all the cruel and unfair measures it has introduced, the Bedroom Tax will probably be top of the list, writes Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Ipswich, David Ellesmere.
Over 1,000 low income families in Ipswich have been affected by it; more than half a million nationwide. Two thirds of households affected include someone who is disabled. It is designed to hit those who can afford it least.
It is unworkable and could never do what the Government claims it is trying to achieve – a better use of social housing – because, for the vast majority of people affected, the smaller homes are simply not there for them to move in to.
What’s worse, the Government never even expected it to do what they publicly claim. When it was introduced, the financial savings predicted were based on every single household staying put and paying the extra money.
The Government’s own evaluation of the Bedroom Tax reported widespread concern that families “were making cuts to other household essentials or incurring other debts in order to pay the rent”.
The Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation has described the policy as “an unfair, ill-planned disaster that is hurting our poorest families.”
Even some of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs who voted for it in the first place are now having second thoughts.
So you would have thought, in the lead up to Christmas, that the time was right to vote to abolish the Bedroom Tax.
Last Wednesday Labour MPs put down a motion calling for its abolition. Sadly – although all too predictably – Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs combined to vote the motion down.
Sadly – although all too predictably – Ipswich’s Conservative MP Ben Gummer voted to keep the Bedroom Tax.
It is now abundantly clear that the only way the Bedroom Tax is going to be abolished is if we have a Labour Government in May.