Constituents “penalised for something beyond their control.”
Birmingham MP Roger Godsiff has written to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Ian Duncan Smith to express his opposition to the bedroom tax and describe its effect on his constituents. He is worried that the policy is unfairly penalising people who are willing to move to a smaller property, but cannot do so because there is a shortage of one and two-bedroom homes.
The Labour MP for Hall Green says: “Like many other MPs, particularly those representing poorer constituencies, I frequently receive letters from people who have been pushed into desperate situations by this policy. They are willing to move, but cannot do so because no smaller houses are available. Yet they are still forced to pay the penalty.”
He is also concerned that the policy unfairly targets disabled people. Shockingly, more than half of those affected by the bedroom tax have a disability. He says: “My constituents have explained that they are willing to move from their homes, which have been specially adapted for their needs, but they cannot do so because of the lack of suitable smaller housing. They are then financially penalised, or even forced into homelessness, for something which is utterly beyond their control.”
Nationally, there are smaller properties available for only one in twenty families with spare rooms. In Birmingham 13,557 households are affected by the bedroom tax, but just 368 one and two-bedroom properties are currently unoccupied. Mr Godsiff has asked Iain Duncan Smith for his suggestions about what the other 13,189 families should do to comply with the policy, and avoid having to give up a significant chunk of their already stretched incomes.
He added: “I do not feel that it is fair or right—or will save this country money in the longer term—to push people into poverty and destitution. Ordinary people are being punished for structural problems in the UK’s housing stock for which they, unlike Government Ministers, are not remotely responsible.”
Roger has called on the Government to stop penalising people who are willing to move house to comply with the policy, but cannot do so because there is a national shortage of smaller properties. He also suggested that, rather than punishing the most vulnerable for conditions over which they have no control, the Government start building the new housing which this country desperately needs.