Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, today (27th January 2016) greeted what he called an “historic” Court of Appeal judgement which said that the Government’s keystone Bedroom Tax was “discriminatory”.
“This morning we have learnt that the Appeal Court, hearing two test cases, have ruled that this tax discriminates against the disabled and victims of domestic violence.
“The bedroom tax, or what the government continue to call the “spare room subsidy”, cuts benefits for social housing tenants who have a “spare” bedroom.
“One appeal concerned the effect of the policy on women living in properties adapted because of risks to their lives. Her home was equipped with a panic room. The second appeal focused on the impact of the policy on disabled children needing overnight care.
“These are far more far-reaching than previous judgements which hung on technicalities in the regulations. This one is based on needs of the registered disabled across all boundaries and to all victims of domestic violence.
“We are told that Iain Duncan Smith has said he will be trying to appeal this at the Supreme Court, but the strength of this judgement is such that he cannot be confident of holding the line on this extortionate and grossly unfair tax.
“In the meantime this will be a poser for councils, housing associations and the DWP. I would hope that these agencies will now pause their decisions affecting these groups of people.
Labour MP for Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, has today welcomed a landmark ruling won by tenants of a local housing association.
A First-tier Tribunal judge ruled that a child can live in two homes for Bedroom Tax purposes. The ruling, won by the Coast & Country ‘Tenants Working Together’ Group, could mean that parents sharing responsibility for a child or children will not be subject to Bedroom Tax on the ‘spare room’ used by their child..
Commenting on the ruling, Tom Blenkinsop MP said:
“The Bedroom Tax was one of the cruellest policies implemented by the Coalition Government, and under the current Tory Government it will not be going away. A Labour Government would’ve abolished this unfair policy and scrapping the Bedroom Tax would have been included in the first Queen’s Speech.
“The next best thing is winning these little battles in the courts and I completely welcome this decision and praise the hard work of these local campaigners. It is so vital that it is repeatedly pointed out how unfair and, in many cases, unworkable this policy is. I’m sure the Coast & Country tenants working group will continue to fight against the Bedroom Tax and I am happy to support their efforts.”
Tom Blenkinsop MP has urged MPs from all parties to back Labour’s attempt to scrap the Bedroom Tax by Christmas. Labour has forced a debate and vote in parliament on Wednesday 17th December on the Bedroom Tax.
Since the Bedroom Tax was introduced around half a million low-income households have been forced to find, on average an extra £700 a year. In Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland 1,296 families have been hit by the Bedroom Tax.
“This Christmas people will struggle to make ends meet, many relying on food banks to survive because of the Bedroom Tax David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s government introduced. The Bedroom Tax is wasting people’s money, time and talents, it’s another example of Tory Welfare Waste.
“Labour is forced a vote to scrap this failing policy once and for all. I urged MPs of all parties to do the right thing and back Labour’s attempt to scrap this cruel and unfair tax but the Tories with the help of Lib Dems and UKIP scuppered any chance of abolishing the bedroom tax this parliament.
“This was the last chance to vote against the hated bedroom tax before parliament adjourns in March for the General Election. If the government refuses to abolish the bedroom tax, labour will if we form the next government.
Labours shadow DWP minister Rachel Reeves said:
“Around half a million people have been hit by the Bedroom Tax, forcing many into debt and to rely on food banks. It’s a cruel, unfair and costly tax with two thirds of those affected are disabled. Let’s scrap the Bedroom Tax and get rid of this failing policy which is leading to more Tory Welfare Waste.”
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop today (5th September 2014) joined other Labour MPs to vote against the hated Bedroom Tax during a debate in parliament.
The Bedroom Tax has caused hardship for hundreds of thousands of people across the country, costing low-income families an average of £700 a year. Two thirds of those hit by the Bedroom Tax have disabilities and 60,000 are carers. In the North East alone over 36, 986 people have been affected.
The Liberal Democrats have repeatedly joined the Tories to keep the Bedroom Tax in place and have previously resisted any attempt to protect people from it. Yet today the Liberal Democrats joined Labour in voting against their own policy in Parliament.
Thanks to the support of Labour MPs the vote was won. Unfortunately this vote will not abolish the bedroom tax, as Labour will do if elected next year, but it is a step in the right direction and a glimmer of hope for many.
Following the vote Tom said:
“David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s cruel and unfair Bedroom Tax has hit the poorest and most vulnerable on Teesside. I regularly hear from victims of this cruel policy who are finding themselves being forced out of their homes or under mounting pressure from bills they cannot afford.
“Despite all the warnings and the clear evidence that the Bedroom Tax is causing misery, hardship and forcing thousands to rely on food banks, the Lib Dems and Tories have voted again and again in favour of it. If this government won’t ditch the Bedroom Tax, then the next Labour government will.”
Today (26th February 2014) in Parliament Labour held an Opposition Day Debate on the recently discovered loophole for the Bedroom Tax in the government’s legislation that exempts people who have been claiming housing benefit at the same property continuously since 1996.
The government has laid a Statutory Instrument to close this loophole. Labour used an Opposition Day to force a vote on a cross-party motion that, if it had been won, would have the effect of annulling this instrument.
Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, said:
“The hated Bedroom Tax has been flawed from the start and the policy is increasingly unravelling. The Coalition government has claimed that only 3,000-5,000 people fall into this loophole, but Freedom of Information investigations carried out by Labour’s Shadow DWP team suggest that the number could be far greater – in the North East alone it is estimated that the number of claimants exempted is 1,300.
“Coalition MPs on Teesside, James Wharton and Ian Swales, showed their true colours today by failing to support the motion – many of their constituents have been hit by the Bedroom Tax and will rightly feel let down by their representatives in Parliament.
“The Bedroom Tax is a cruel and unfair measure that hits some of the most vulnerable in our society, and, for the vast majority of those affected, there is nowhere smaller to move to. Instead of scrambling to close loopholes in their own legislation and bringing more people within reach of the tax, the government should be reversing it. That is something that only Labour has pledged that they will do.”