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MP criticises housing benefits bedroom tax

By Luton On Sunday  |  Posted: March 03, 2013

By CARL MUNGAZI

Comments (2)

Reducing benefits of people in under-occupied social housing has been branded as ‘disgraceful’ by an MP.

Gavin Shuker, the Luton South MP, has attacked the ‘bedroom tax’ which is set to affect 1,136 households in the town.

From April 1 residents in homes under-occupied by one room will lose 14 per cent of their housing benefit, and 25 per cent if they are in homes under-occupied by two rooms.

The changes are part of the Government’s plans to cut expenditure on welfare.

But Mr Shuker, pictured, has said the measure is the wrong way to tackle the cost of welfare.

He said: “This is a particularly disgraceful approach by this Tory-led government, because the bedroom tax is quite clearly an attack on some of the poorest people across the country.”

Mr Shuker also expressed concern that the areas in the town which will be hit were ones with high levels of child poverty.

He added: “I have already had a number of families come to my surgery in absolute despair about either how they are going to afford to make up the cost, or face uprooting their lives because there is nowhere in Luton to downsize to.

“The real life stories of this tax are heartbreaking. The government is failing to listen to people in very vulnerable situations.

“While I know that we need to bring down the cost of welfare, this is not the way to do it. The only way we will achieve this is by getting more people off benefits and into work.”

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2 comments

  • Marian54  |  March 03 2013, 9:21PM

    The reason for the under occupancy penalty, has nothing to do with encouraging people to move to smaller properties. It has EVERYTHING to do with reducing welfare benefits. The proof is: - . There are 1163 households affected by this in our town. If half pay 14% and Half 25% based on local council rents the governments will save £17,600 per week from housing benefit bill. I checked the bedfordshire home swap site and found 1 yes 1 1 bedroom property able to swap to a 2 bedroom property. If only 1 can swap up to a 2 bedroom property then only 1 of those with an extra bedroom can swap down to a 1. Further investigation showed that those wanting to swap from 2 – 3 and vice versa, wanted different types of accommodation, different locations, or were clearly unsuitable for disabled or elderly to swap to. I also checked into the private sector. If half, could and did, downsized by 1 bedroom and half by 2 it would cost the taxpayer an EXTRA £48,609 per week. Now the reason they know this is not going to happen is because they also know there are NOT ENOUGH properties for us to downsize to in either housing sectors. Therefore they can implement the penalty because we cannot move.A recent FOI request to Luton council revealed they had less than 40 1 and 2 bedroom properties vacant. This pattern is being replicated throughout the country. We know what choices there are for us.Most of us have none.

  • deancrofts  |  March 03 2013, 3:37PM

    Typical of a Labour politician. So 1136 homes in Luton are being under occupied and people have a spare room they do not need? Lets give those rooms to families that need them. If a family is on housing benefit they should have to follow the same rules as everyone else which is choose the size of property they can live in based on affordability. Let them keep their spare room but pay for it just like everyone else. That is fair in a society which has a welfare system. Labour once again are going for headlines and not fairness. They are once again protecting the out of work - I thought they were the party for the working class - but not considering the majority of taxpayers who pay the welfare bill. One big problem with the housing benefit reductions for social housing - please do not call it a tax - taxes are from income and assets earned - is that it does not protect the DISABLED who sometimes need a spare room and this is one measure that must change.

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