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MP's leading battle against bedroom tax

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: March 11, 2013

By Rebecca Jones

Comments (9)

A CARMARTHENSHIRE MP is urging the authority and housing associations to look at reclassifying their housing stock.

Jonathan Edwards, MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, is calling on Carmarthenshire Council and other housing operators in the county, to take legal advice to see what their options are.

He has made the call ahead of Government plans for a bedroom tax, due to be introduced in April 2013.

Mr Edwards led Plaid Cymru's opposition to the bedroom tax in last week's Plaid/SNP/Green opposition debate in Westminster, coming just 40 votes shy of defeating the Government.

During that debate, Mr Edwards criticised Labour for making the issue a political dividing line between it and the UK Government, but failing to bring a vote on the matter to the House of Commons. In letters to Carmarthenshire Council's executive board member for housing Tegwen Devichand and to the chief executives of five different housing associations, Mr Edwards cited the case of Knowsley Housing Trust in Merseyside, which recently reclassified nearly 600 family houses as smaller properties.

Mr Edwards said: "Public anger towards this toxic Tory policy is growing day by day.

"That is why Plaid Cymru, along with our Green and SNP colleagues, chose our opposition debate on this issue.

"I've urged the county council and local housing associations to seriously consider, following the necessary legal advice, whether they are able to reclassify their housing stock to smaller properties in order to mitigate the effects of this unjust and unworkable proposal.

"Wales will once again be disproportionately hit by the bedroom tax. We must do all we can to support those most vulnerable who depend on housing benefit.

"That includes, of course, recipients who work for a living but still quality for housing support because of their low income.

"Reclassifying properties is a way in which councils and housing associations can take a positive and proactive defence against the serious consequences of this unfair policy."

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9 comments

  • jayjayboya  |  March 13 2013, 9:48PM

    I live in Scotland, and there are NO 1 or 2 bedroom houses or flats to downsize to. Tenants are who are quite willing to downsize, and the council do not have the properties to move them to, should not then have to pay the 'bedroom tax'. I am sure if a solicitor was to take up such a case they would have a good chance of winning. I also agree that if these same tenants move to Private rented accommodation, where the rents are substantially more expensive, more than £200 a month in most cases, but they would be allowed to claim the full housing benefit. Where is the sense in that,the housing benefit bill would be hugely increased.I am in a private rented 1 bedroom flat at the moment and the rent is £495 a month,a council property would be approx £280 a month, but I as told (before the introduction of the 'bedroom tax') that I would have over 2 years to wait before I would be offered a council property, Looks like I'll have no chance now. Also where do people stand when they get the minimum that the government states they need to live on. How on earth can they then say that these same people have to pay at least £14 from there benefits to pay towards having an extra room. People are going to be living in poverty. My sister has a son who was blown up by an IED in Afghanistan,lost both his legs and had numerous severe injuries,( he does have his own property) but she has 1 spare room,which her son uses when he visits her. BUT if she stays where she is she will have to pay the 'bedroom tax'. What is this country coming to.

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  • siarad2  |  March 11 2013, 9:15PM

    I don't have to pay it so it isn't a tax, no one does who support themselves, so why is my real tax going to pay for something unused.

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  • PJL1967  |  March 11 2013, 7:20PM

    It's good to see Carmarthenshire MP Jonathan Edwards looking to support those hit by the bedroom tax. I watched him on TV speaking in the opposition debate in the House of Commons and was impressed with his opposition to this ill though out policy. I was also impressed with Swansea West MP Geraint Davies who also spoke very passionately at the debate. I really do hope our elected representatives find ways to help those affected, whether that's done by reclassifying properties or perhaps by other means including absorbing the costs in other ways, as some social housing providers as proposing. People up and down the country are very worried and angry about the bedroom tax and are even talking of taking part in direct action campaigns such as 'mass appeals' against the policy which is completely legal but will create chaos and incur a huge costs to every Local Authority in administrative terms, which in turn they say would put huge pressure on the Coalition to look again at the policy. See: http://tinyurl.com/cmypoe5 People are not going to take this draconian policy lying down and nor should they give up without a fight! It's not just unfair, it's unworkable and completely counterproductive!

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  • Jiffy  |  March 11 2013, 5:58PM

    Forcing people into living in private accommodation, instead of social housing will cause problems for employment too. I have first hand knowledge of a person with a 'spare' bedroom. She will have to find almost £20 a week to make up the 'tax'. There are no social housing properties with fewer rooms, but there are private properties - but they are hugely more expensive, something like £60 a week more. All the time the person is on benefits, that won't be a problem, but if she gets a full time job, her wages need to be much higher than the minimum wage for her to be able to pay the rent in full. Getting a full-time job will put her into debt.

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  • PJL1967  |  March 11 2013, 5:37PM

    Jiffy, bedroom tax is coming in in April but Housing Benefit will start to be paid directly to claimants later in the year when Universal Credit comes in but I fully agree with the point you make about forcing people into private rental. This will be very counterproductive because the government claim they are introducing the bedroom tax to reduce the Housing Benefit bill, however this move would actually increase it. Housing Benefit had doubled in ten years to £21billion - a cost of £900 to every household in the country. But this increase is not the fault of social housing tenants with so-called spare rooms.The fault lies with the fact there is a massive shortage of social housing which pushes people into private with higher rents. The cost of housing benefit in the past ten years spent on private tenants across the UK has increased by a massive 153 per cent, compared to a 21 per cent increase for council and housing association tenants. The tabloids often paint benefits claimants as 'scroungers' but, clearly, the real benefit 'scroungers' are the private landlords milking the Housing Benefits system and who stand to milk the system even more if Iain Duncan Smith gets his way of forcing people to downsize into more expensive private rental accommodation. Although, how exactly IDS thinks someone who simply can not afford the bedroom tax is suddenly able find the money needed to move home is beyond me.

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  • Jiffy  |  March 11 2013, 4:38PM

    The tories have changed how housing benefit is paid the landlords from April. Instead of being paid directly to landlords, the benefit is paid to claiments who have to pass it on. If the benefit has been reduced due to bedroom tax - anyone not paying their full rent will soon find themselves in dept. Councils and housing associations already have enough problems with unpaid rent debt from people in work. Extra debt from this 'tax' could force housing associations into bankruptcy. Perhaps that's what the tories want - all rented accommodation back into private hands, leaving tenants to put up with unsavory landlords like Nicholas van Hoogstraten.

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  • PJL1967  |  March 11 2013, 3:08PM

    Cameron would do well to remember that opposition in the 1980's to the Tories 'Poll Tax' lead to the downfall of Margaret Thatcher who resigned as Prime Minister defending a policy which an opinion poll had found only 12% favoured.

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  • Neathboy234  |  March 11 2013, 2:02PM

    This bedroom tax is going to turn into a complete nightmare for the Tories. A good case was brought up by Ed Miliband at PM question time a few weeks ago. He said about a woman who would have to pay this extra tax when her twin son's went off to fight in Afghanistan, poor Cameron was lost for words. To me it just seems that the Tories lurch from one disaster to the next, are they trying to go down in history as the most useless gov in history

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  • PJL1967  |  March 11 2013, 11:21AM

    Whilst some people may at first support the idea of a bedroom tax, careful consideration of it's consequences have revealed is not fit for purpose and will cause far more problems than it 'claims' to solve. The government in Westminster is about to make the lives of 660,000 households in the UK a complete and utter misery by attempting to force tenants to downsize into non-existent smaller homes or force them to pay money most of them simply do not have. A poll in last weeks Telegraph shows that even their readers, who are traditionally Tory supporters, are overwhelmingly oppose to the bedroom tax. The results of the poll were, 16.49% (363 votes) in favour of the bedroom tax, compared to 83.51% (1,838 votes) against the bedroom tax: http://tinyurl.com/bur8jy7 Another poll in Inside Housing, a magazine for the social housing sector, shows only about 9% think it should be implemented as planned: http://tinyurl.com/ydjqmrz Clearly therefore, there is widespread opposition to the bedroom tax and it it growing by the day as more and more people are waking up to the fact that the policy will be a disaster costing the taxpayer more than it saves and throwing many vulnerable people into poverty and declining health, especially the 70% of those affected who are disabled, many of which are children.

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