Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Lincoln, Lucy Rigby, has blasted the city’s MP for failing to back a bill which would reduce the hardship caused by the bedroom tax.
The bill included measures to exclude social housing tenants from the policy until they receive a ‘reasonable offer’ of alternative accommodation with the ‘correct number of bedrooms’. An exemption would also apply under the affordable homes bill if a tenant needs an extra room for medical reasons or if the property has undergone substantial adaptations to help them live there. Lincoln MP Karl McCartney voted against the bill.
Social housing tenants judged to have too much living space have had their housing benefit cut since 1 April 2013, under a proposal known as the spare room subsidy by the government, but widely known as the "bedroom tax".
The bedroom tax has hit hundreds of thousands of people across Britain, costing families an average of £700 a year. Two thirds of those hit by the bedroom tax have disabilities and 60,000 are carers. In Lincoln, nearly 1,000 tenants have been affected by the bedroom tax, directly pushing 61 householders into rent arrears and contributing to the hardship experienced by hundreds others.
Thanks to the support of Labour MPs, the vote was won and the bill will now be considered further by MPs. Unfortunately this vote will not abolish the bedroom tax, as Labour will do if elected next year, but it is a step in the right direction and a glimmer of hope for many. Just one Conservative MP, Angie Bray who represents Ealing and Central Acton in west London, backed the bill.
Commenting on Mr McCartney’s failure to back efforts to support Lincoln’s hard-pressed tenants, Lucy Rigby said: “David Cameron's cruel and unfair bedroom tax has hit some of the poorest and most vulnerable in Lincoln.
“Despite the clear evidence that the bedroom tax is causing misery, hardship and forcing thousands to rely on food banks, the Lib Dems and Tories have voted again and again in favour of it. If this government won’t ditch the bedroom tax, then the next Labour government will.”
Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Rachel Reeves MP said: "The Lib Dems voted with the Tories for the bedroom tax. There wouldn't be a bedroom tax if it wasn't for the Lib Dems. The only way to cancel the bedroom tax is to elect a Labour government next year."