September 24, 2013

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The bedroom tax was introduced by the Tory/Lib-Dem government in April and it is one of the most cruel pieces of legislation, which any government could have introduced.

Combined with cuts to council tax benefit it has made the lives of some of the poorest people in the country much, much harder. 

The bedroom tax is quite simply a tax on people who have a spare room and it applies regardless of whether people are disabled, regardless of how long they have lived there and regardless of whether they have young children. 

That’s why it is right that Labour will scrap the tax, if we win the election in 2015. 

The Tories and the Lib-Dems say they want people who have a spare room to move into a smaller property. This sounds fine in principle until you realise how few one bed council or housing association properties there are. 

In Sefton a few weeks ago there were just eight such properties available but several thousand people were hit with the bedroom tax. Where on earth did the Tories and their Lib-Dem friends expect these people to move to? 

The reality is that for most people, there is nowhere to go so they are stuck with a tax of £25 per week. With cuts in council tax benefit, that can easily be doubled, as I found out when I spoke to one tenant who lives in Crosby. 

Up and down the country, tenants are falling into arrears and some have already been evicted because they cannot afford the extra charge. Anyone evicted is then housed in emergency housing, usually miles from where they were living, which is very disruptive for children who may have to move school and often takes people away from friends and families who may have been supporting them. 

Emergency housing rents are far higher and as most of the rent is paid in housing benefit, it ends up costing more than if the tenants had stayed put and not had to pay the bedroom tax. 

I said the bedroom tax was cruel. 

It is also an example of incompetence as it costs more than it saves. The government said it introduced the bedroom tax to save money to cut the deficit. It was warned that the bedroom tax would cost more than it would save and that is what happened. 

But on the same day the bedroom tax was brought in, the same Tory/Lib-Dem government cut the taxes of those earning over £150,000 a year. Anyone who earns over £1million a year has been given a tax cut of £100,000 a year - £2,000 a week. 

So at the same time as the government was making the poorest in our country much poorer, it made the wealthiest much wealthier. 

The combination of the bedroom tax and the tax cut for millionaires really was a return of the nasty party, propped up by the Lib-Dems.

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My office in Maghull is very busy and I have four members of staff based there. We also have a number of volunteers who work very hard and another member of staff in London who supports us be carrying out research and helping with my work. 

We are involved in a number of local campaigns including the protection of the green belt, the fight for Crosby Coastguard and the attempt to save the ambulance station in Lydiate.

And of course because we are proactive, we generate a huge number of enquiries about issues like the bedroom tax, waiting times at A&E and cuts by the Tories and Lib-Dems to the council or to the number of front line police.

Thousands of people come to me for help each year and we also receive tens of thousands of emails about many different issues.  My staff work extremely hard on behalf of the people of Formby, Crosby, Maghull and Aintree and that’s why I use every penny of my staff budget, which goes directly to my staff, to pay their salaries.

 We also have an office budget which pays the rent and the other costs needed to run the busy constituency office in Maghull. The people who work for me and the dozens of volunteers across the constituency do a great job and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them all for the terrific job they do.

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