Posted: 11 September, 2014 at 3:45 pm
Last Friday, John Healey joined other MPs in Westminster to vote for a new law to soften the impact of the bedroom tax.
The bill was opposed by the Conservatives, but still managed to pass a landmark vote in the House of Commons with a majority of 75. If it becomes law, the bill would mean that people who could not downsize to a smaller home would be exempt from the bedroom tax, as would disabled people who need a spare bedroom.
It is estimated that over 9,000 people in Rotherham and Barnsley have lost an average of almost £700 a year as a result of having their housing benefit cut. The best way to end the bedroom tax is a Labour government next May but this legislation would be a good step for now.
Commenting on the vote, John Healey MP said:
“So many people have contacted me about the bedroom tax since it was introduced in April last year. Tory and Lib Dem Ministers in Westminster just don’t get the misery these cuts have caused in areas like ours. This vote was a chance to send a clear message to the government from people in Rotherham and Barnsley, and across the country: we want to see the bedroom tax scrapped.
“Despite the growing evidence that the bedroom tax is forcing thousands to rely on food banks, while failing to make the savings promised, Liberal Democrat and Conservative MPs have repeatedly voted in favour of it.
“Labour is the prepared to make affordable housing a top priority at the next election. The Tories and Lib Dems have brought in the bedroom tax and cut over £4bn from the government budget for affordable homes. UKIP have said that as a ‘free market’ party, they are happy to see rents rise still further. We desperately need Labour’s plan to build 200,000 homes a year, limit rent increases and invest in new affordable homes.”
Notes to editors
1. The Affordable Homes Bill, a private member’s bill put forward by Liberal Democrat backbencher Andrew George, passed its second reading in the House of Commons on Friday 5th September: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-29075300.
2. Using analysis from the National Housing Federation it can be estimated that 9,319 households in Rotherham and Barnsley have been affected by the bedroom tax. Government figures estimate that the average cost per claimant was £13 per week across Yorkshire and the Humber.
3. UKIP housing spokesperson Andrew Charalambous revealed the party’s opposition to any measures to restrain rents in his interview with Inside Housing magazine earlier this year; http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/tenancies/gaining-ground/6526974.article.