Barbara Keeley MP

LABOUR MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR WORSLEY AND ECCLES SOUTH

Barbara's Salford Advertiser Column, 14th March 2013

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As my colleague Hazel Blears wrote last week, the Conservative-led Government is imposing its new “Bedroom Tax” on over 6,000 families and individuals in Salford. I believe this is such a cruel and unfair policy it is worth looking at it in some detail.

Many families will have to pay more than £500 a year to continue to rent their homes and some will have to pay over £900 more. If they cannot pay they are expected to move, but there are very few smaller properties available in Salford to which they can move.

In Worsley and Eccles South, 2,600 households are considered by the Government to have “spare” bedrooms. Two thirds of these are home to someone who is disabled.  The so-called “spare” bedrooms may house a hospital bed or other equipment. Having a separate room may be the only way that a disabled person and their carers can get a night’s sleep. Despite such needs, married couples are expected to have only one bedroom.

One quarter of those being hit by the tax are single Mums and Dads, who may be struggling financially to raise children on their own.  Divorced parents are also affected because only the parent with care of the children is allowed a bedroom for them. The other parent will have to pay extra if they want a bedroom in which their children can stay overnight.

The way this unfair policy is being brought in says all you need to know about this Government. On the same day that the Bedroom Tax is being imposed on people with lower incomes the Government is giving a 5% tax cut to all those earning £150,000, meaning a £100,000 hand-out to 13,000 millionaires.

The Government announced a very late U-turn on this policy for foster carers, families of young people serving in the armed forces and children with severe disabilities. I will continue to campaign for the Government to abandon this unfair policy entirely.

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