Nottingham MP slams ministers in a debate on the 'bedroom tax'
A CITY MP said she wonders "how Government ministers sleep at night" as the implementation of the so-called Bedroom Tax gets closer.
Nottingham South MP Lilian Greenwood was speaking during a debate in Westminster on Monday night about the controversial changes to housing benefit.
Ms Greenwood also made reference to the Post's front page from Monday, where we revealed that more than 5,500 households in Nottingham will be affected by the changes – but just 35 one and two bedroom properties were available for rent.
From April 1, people's housing benefit will be cut by 14 per cent if properties have one spare room and 25 per cent if they have two spare rooms.
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She said: "For people in Nottingham, that means on average £11 a week if they have one room more than they are allowed, or £22 a week if they have two rooms.
"That may not sound like very much to a minister, but for someone on Jobseeker's Allowance of £71 a week it is the difference between eating or going hungry, turning on the heating or sitting in the cold, borrowing money to pay your rent or going into arrears.
"Even if they (available council and social housing) were all allocated to households that are currently under-occupying, that would help only 35 households – fewer than 1 per cent of those affected.
"That is before one considers the 2,269 families in Nottingham waiting for a two-bedroom property, or the 7,333 individuals or couples waiting for a one-bedroom property."
Chris Leslie, MP for Nottingham East, added: "In my constituency, the cases that really pull at the heart strings bring the issue most to life, particularly when they involve a disabled person in the household."
Mr Leslie made reference to a case where a young man with schizophrenia was trying to become more independent but needed a spare bedroom so his father could occasionally stay to reassure him if things got difficult.
He added: "It is the individual cases that illustrate just how heartless and callous the policy is."
Steve Webb, of the Department for Work and Pensions, said: "There is an issue about fairness between social and private tenants and between those who face overcrowding and are desperate for a home and those who have spare rooms, and about fairness for those on the waiting list."
On the web: join the debate at thisisnottingham.co.uk