Hot on the heels of Weoley’s bedroom tax meeting last month, the Labour Party has revealed that 13,557 Birmingham households are affected by the tax but there are just 368 suitable properties they could downsize to.
More than 96% of people hit by the tax have nowhere to move to, forcing already vulnerable people to food banks and loan sharks. There is now a serious danger it could end up costing Britain more than it saves as tenants are forced into homelessness or the expensive private rented sector.
Steve Booton, Weoley candidate, said: “The bedroom tax must be scrapped and more affordable homes built for people to rent; creating jobs, giving young people training opportunities, and putting money back into the economy to get this country on its feet again.
“Week after week, we meet people on our street stall who are victims of the Tory bedroom tax. They can’t move because there aren’t the properties available to meet their needs, yet they’re being made to pay for a crisis they have not created. The local Tory councillors might talk about Labour shedding crocodile tears, but those tears are feeling increasingly real: research shows that the disabled are among the most victimised under this unfair and unjust tax.”
Steve invited Shadow Housing Minister Jack Dromey MP and Northfield MP Richard Burden to speak to local Weoley residents about the hated bedroom tax in July. Jack Dromey, also a Birmingham MP, told residents that the tax was not based on sound economics but built on an inhuman narrative of ‘them and us’.
He said: “We’ve had a housing crisis for 30 years. We don’t need people now to be forced into expensive private sector houses that will increase the housing benefits bill further. What is driving the increase in benefits are high rents coupled with in-work benefits paid to people on low wages.”
Richard Burden said: “The truth is there aren’t enough smaller homes for families to move to – at least not at a price that people can afford. Many now can’t afford to stay in their home but can’t afford to move.”
* Fellow Birmingham MP Liam Byrne made the Freedom of Information requests that show that local councils are unable to help 96% of tenants affected by the bedroom tax due to a major shortage of available housing.
In 26 local authority areas, 99,079 households have seen their benefits cut due to having a spare room in their home. These new figures reveal that there are just 3,803 one and two-bedrooms homes for them to move to.