While nearly half a million people are calling on Iain Duncan Smith to put his money where his mouth is, 430 of the poorest families in Weoley will be forced to pay higher rent or move home.
The bedroom tax will cause untold damage to our communities in Weoley, where families who receive housing benefit and live in council or housing association homes with a ‘spare’ bedroom will have to pay around £600 more a year or risk being forced to move home.
The Northfield Constituency, made up of Weoley, Kings Norton, Longbridge and Northfield wards, is one of the worst hit areas in Birmingham with around 1,400 properties affected. Over the past few months, Steve Booton, Weoley Labour Party spokesperson, and Richard Burden, MP for Northfield, have been inundated with requests for help from local residents deeply concerned that they will not be able to afford the extra charges on surplus bedrooms.
Steve Booton said: “What worries us in the Weoley Labour Party is that this policy will force already poor people into further financial hardship if they decide to stay put or it will displace entire communities if they decide they have to find an alternative property.”
Richard Burden said: “We’re finding countless situations where the bedroom tax will hit soldiers and pensioners and two thirds of the families affected are home to someone with a disability. If families are made homeless or pushed into expensive private rented accommodation, the taxpayer could actually be left with a higher bill.”
In a recent Birmingham City Council webcast, Conservative Cllr Peter Douglas Osborn was seen to publicly back the bedroom tax. Mr Douglas Osborn, by doing this, shows a complete disregard for some of the most vulnerable families in his own Weoley ward.
Cllr Douglas Osborn faced criticism from fellow committee members when he warned against shedding crocodile tears for tenants who face a ‘downgrade’ once the kids leave home and said that the term bedroom tax was ‘long on emotion and very short on fact.’
Steve Booton said: “It’s typical of Cllr Douglas Osborn to back this unjust policy when everyone knows there are not enough of the right-sized properties for people to move into. After all, the Tories are now known as the party of the rich.
“We met a woman on our street stall on Saturday who has been trying to move for years. She now faces an extra £28 a week rent. She and many others will see their benefits reduced further by changes to council tax payments and legal aid is now also outside the grasp of ordinary people.
“So whether it’s pushing people into private rented accommodation via the bedroom tax, punishing the vulnerable with welfare cuts or asset-stripping the NHS, Douglas Osborn and his Tory friends are out to make sure the rich make a profit while the poor pay more.”