Nottingham South MP Lilian Greenwood tackles Government over so-called Bedroom Tax
A CITY MP has said she wonders “how Government Ministers sleep at night” as the implementation of the so-called Bedroom Tax comes closer.
Nottingham South MP Lilian Greenwood held a debate in Westminster last night about the controversial changes to housing benefit.
Ms Greenwood also made reference to the Post’s front page on Monday where we revealed that more than 5,500 households will be affected by the changes in Nottingham, but only 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 are under-occupied by one room and 25 per cent if they are under-occupied by two rooms if they live in council or social housing.
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She said: “For people in Nottingham, that means on average an extra £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 the 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 (all 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 getting into independent living, 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.
“We are asking private renters in Nottingham and elsewhere to pay just under £2 a day for a spare room. Obviously, if somebody is on benefit, that it not easy. However, for those who want to retain their spare room, that is the contribution that we are asking.
“Many people on a low income who are renting in the private sector pay that money.”