South Ribble urged to fight against Bedroom Tax

South Ribble Council Civic Centre, Leyland
South Ribble Council Civic Centre, Leyland

Calls have been made for South Ribble Council to urge the government to abolish the controversial Bedroom Tax.

Labour leader Mattew Tomlinson said at a full council meeting: “However you choose to describe this callous, ill thought-out idea, it has been a complete failure.

“Research from the Department for Work and Pensions showed that just six per cent of people affected by the Bedroom Tax had been able to move into smaller accommodation, and therefore not be financially punished for living in a house deemed ‘too big’.

“So much for freeing up more houses for ‘hardworking families’ to move into.

“The research also found that 60 per cent of affected people are now in rent arrears; people told that they have to move, and can’t.

“But perhaps most shocking of all, the DWP’s own research showed that six per cent of people affected by the Bedroom Tax had resorted to credit cards or payday loans in order to pay the rent.

“The Labour group is aware that there may well be a Parliamentary vote on the Bedroom Tax this autumn.

“It would appear that with even Nick Clegg now expressing his doubts as to its effectiveness or its fairness, this reviled piece of legislation may have had its day.”

Leyland councillor Jane Bell added: “Whilst there may be some sense in the so-called ‘Bedroom Tax’ - trying to free under-used family homes and moving these families into more appropriate housing, where are these smaller homes? South Ribble has only managed to build 89 affordable homes over the past few years.”

Liberal Democrat leader David Howarth said: “Only one in 20 claimants have managed to downsize. It’s not working, and we’re very against this now and would look to see it be abolished.”

But the Tories argued that the system is working, because the number of claimants in South Ribble affected by the under-occupancy rule has dropped from 600 when it was introduced in April last year, to 454 now.