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March 11, 2014 - Bill Esterson's Westminster Diary

Bill Esterson

Labour will scrap the bedroom tax if we win the election. 

In  the last few weeks, we have forced a number of votes on the subject in parliament. Amazingly, the Lib Dems have supported the Conservatives and have voted to keep the bedroom tax, each time we have held a vote. 

The bedroom tax affects 440,000 disabled people and hundreds of thousands of children who live in social housing. In fact it affects anyone who is poor and living in social housing whether they are working or not and whether they can work or not. 

Meanwhile, the Department for Work and Pensions has published some case studies to show who would have to pay the bedroom tax.

One example of a severely disabled woman on the DWP website, shows just how unfair the tax really is.

J.D. lives with her disabled 26 year old daughter, A.D. They occupy a specially adapted three bedroom property where they have lived since 1993. 

A.D. has a twin brother who previously lived in the house but has now moved out. The landlord is a housing association. A.D. has severe physical disabilities, learning disabilities and visual impairment. She has cerebral palsy with quadriplegia and she is registered blind. She has been assessed as having the approximate mental age of a three-year-old and is reliant on others to make decisions for her. She is doubly incontinent, and needs 24 hour care and support with every aspect of her life. 

Two carers are required to assist with all transfers, as she uses a hoist but is herself physically unable to assist. She is a permanent wheelchair user and is unable to move without assistance. J.D. cares for A.D. full-time, and respite care has been provided for J.D. in respect of A.D.

The property was specially constructed to meet A.D.'s needs, with input from the family, an occupational therapist and a property development team. Specific aids include an internal lift, a gradual slope at the front and rear to allow wheelchair access, ceiling hoists in the bathroom and bedroom, an accessible bathroom and a changing bed.

The Tory-Lib Dem government thinks that J.D. and A.D. should pay the bedroom tax because they have a spare room even though that room is probably used to store the equipment which A.D. needs. 

I think that it a disgrace and will do what I can to make sure the bedroom tax is abolished as soon as possible. 

We live in a civilised society. We have a duty to look after those people who cannot care for themselves. 

When the government brought in the bedroom tax, it also cut taxes for a small number of very wealthy people. It is barmy to cut taxes for the wealthy and increase them for disabled people who can’t work, yet that is what has happened. We should be supporting people like J.D. and A.D. not penalising them because they need help. 

I want to see a fairer society and I hope you agree.



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