September 2, 2014

Bill Esterson



Andrew George MP has tabled a private members’ bill on the bedroom tax. It has its second reading on September 5.

If it passes, it could protect the most vulnerable people from the bedroom tax - like people living with disabilities and people who councils are unable to find suitable alternative accommodation for.

Labour plans to scrap the bedroom tax altogether, which was brought in by the Tory-Lib Dem coalition last year. 

This bill would at least be a step in the right direction and if it succeeds on Friday (September 5) and receives a second reading, my colleagues and I will try to amend it so that it does indeed scrap this cruel and unfair tax which hurts thousands of disabled people and families with children.

The Bedroom Tax is a charge for people in council or housing association homes who have a spare room. 

It was supposed to be a way of making people move to smaller properties and a way of making larger properties available for families who are unable to find a bigger home and face overcrowded living conditions. 

It was also supposed to save money. But there are no smaller properties for those hit with the Bedroom Tax and the families who need larger homes live in different parts of the country from those who have the spare bedrooms. The result has been an increase in the number of empty larger homes in places like Sefton as people can no longer afford them and there is no shortage overall of larger properties for local people in social housing, although they are not in the locations where local people necessarily want to live. The shortage is in one and two bedroom properties for people to move into. 

And around the country, people have been unable to pay the Bedroom Tax or have moved into more expensive private rented housing and sometimes into bed and breakfast emergency accommodation. 

Remember too that this affects many children as under the rules children are supposed to share a room. Many of those affected are in work and many people in work receive housing benefit to help with their rent. The higher rents in private housing have cost more than has been saved by those who have been able to pay the Bedroom Tax.

The Bedroom Tax has failed to save money. It has failed those who need larger homes and it has harmed many of those disabled people and children who most need the help of government.

It is time to scrap this terrible policy and I shall be taking a first step in trying to do just that when I support the Affordable Homes Bill on September 5.