Labour MP Bill Esterson meets with anti-Bedroom Tax campaigner a

Debra Power and Bill Esterson

 

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson said he was concerned by the number of desperate people who have turned to him for help since the introduction of the Bedroom Tax.

Introduced at the start of this month, the Bedroom Tax targets social housing tenants of working age who receive housing support.

Those who are identified as having one spare room lose 14% of their housing benefits. Those with more than one, lose 25%.

Since the Bedroom Tax was introduced, just earlier this month, Bill has been contacted by scores of people from throughout Sefton Central concerned that they can no longer afford to live in their family home. The majority of the people affected are disabled according to the government’s own figures.

Bill said: "It is heartbreaking just what people are going through.

"Very often these are the very people who can least afford it. They are the most vulnerable. Or they are the people who have raised their families in a home, who have real roots in a community, who are being forced out of their homes.

"Last week I met a man who lived in a house with his family. He worked hard and paid into the system until he developed a back problem which meant he was registered disabled. One of his three children had grown up and moved out and because of the welfare changes from earlier this month, he was faced with paying hundreds of extra pounds each year through the loss of council tax benefit. The Bedroom Tax is the last straw for him. Because of these extra charges, he is struggling to make ends meet and seriously fears losing his home.

"His case is being echoed throughout Sefton Central and up and down the country."

Bill met with Debra Power, one of the organisers of the March 16 anti-bedroom tax rally in Liverpool.

Debra told the MP: "From March 16, from when the protest initially took place, we have seen the Bedroom Tax policy come into force.

"We are seeing the effects of this on the individual families in the communities.

"People are really struggling because of the Bedroom Tax.

"The discretionary fund pot simply isn't large enough to cope with the number of people who are finding themselves in difficulty because of this heartless policy.

"There is a shortage of housing for people to find a smaller home. In Liverpool, there would be a wait of seven years for everyone who needs a smaller house to be rehoused. The discretionary fund won't won't last that long.

"On top of that, all the other welfare changes are having a detrimental effect on people's standard of living and this in turn is directly affecting people's physical and mental health."

Bill said he would continue to push the government to reverse the Bedroom Tax "before any more damage is done".

Bill said: "People here are hurting right now. People right here in Sefton Central.

"The policy is flawed. There aren't the homes for people to move to even if they wanted to.

"The Tories and Lib Dems in government are aware of that. If they have an ounce of compassion, they must repeal the Bedroom Tax right now."

 

Debra Power and Bill Esterson