Cllr David Sparks, Leader of Dudley Council and the Local Government Association Labour Group
25 July 2013
Of all the welfare reforms this Government is imposing on the most vulnerable in our society, the bedroom Tax is one of the most pernicious.
People on very low incomes are being forced to downsize into a smaller property or pay an average of £14 a week to stay in their home.
Firstly – the policy is nonsense. We know there is a shortage of housing and if there are no available properties, tenants simply have to bear the extra costs. Early evidence shows a surge in arrears: in Merseyside, for example, 14,000 households fell into arrears after three months.
If more households are pushed out of social housing and into the private sector, this will increase the housing benefit bill.
Secondly – unfortunately no surprise here – it hits the most vulnerable hardest. It is a blunt instrument taking no account of people with disabilities and specially adapted homes; people who need space for carers; single parents who want space for their children to stay, the list goes on. Families will face leaving their community and the support networks they rely on.
Finally, it is another example of this Government getting local government to do its dirty work. Councils are being put in the terrible position of having to chase arrears from vulnerable tenants, and the costs fall on councils to mitigate the impact on their tenants as best they can.
Labour councils have already resolved to stand firm on this issue and demand immediate repeal of the bedroom tax. We will work with our colleagues in the Shadow Cabinet to ensure they get the information they need to expose the damage that is being done.