Tom highlights concerns over the “shameful” impact of the ‘bedroom tax’ on our armed forces

Today (21st November 2012) Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop voiced his concerns over the ‘bedroom tax’ and how it could impact on our serving men and women.

Tom raised the issue following a meeting with his constituent, Alison Huggan, who has two sons that are currently serving as soldiers in the British Army but face the very real prospect of not having a bed to come home to.

The bedroom tax will come into force in April 2013 when thousands of families will have their housing benefit reduced by up to £80 a month.

Tom said:
“When I’m out in the constituency meeting with residents and asking them about their concerns this is one issue that is becoming more prevalent. The coalition government has said that if you are classed as ‘of working age’ and you have an empty bedroom in your house you will lose 14% of the rent value and 25% if you have two or more spare bedrooms. This will see some people having to find over £1000 extra a year just to stay in their homes.

“I found Alison’s, and her sons, situation particularly distressing as it wasn’t too long ago that the Armed Forces Covenant was enshrined in law. That was meant to recognise that the whole nation has a moral obligation to members of the Armed Forces and their families, and it establishes how they should expect to be treated and to redress the disadvantages that the Armed Forces community faces in comparison to other citizens. Yet the lack of consideration given to that commitment – when the bedroom tax comes into force – is shameful.”

Alison said:
“The government has made no concessions and have totally disregarded personal circumstances. I have spoken to my housing officer about moving to a smaller one bedroom property, only to be told that they do not have enough one bedroom properties to meet the need of everyone.

“If the government forces these changes when my sons return home after defending our country and serving its people they will not have a bed to sleep in at their family home.”

Tom added:
“Even more frightening is the service personnel leaving the army aged under 25 who will not even be eligible for housing benefit. We have a proud military tradition in Teesside and hundreds of families will be denied their family home as a result of this policy that is, quite frankly, reprehensible.”

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