Labour’s manifesto must commit to repealing the Bedroom Tax

On Thursday we had an all members meeting of Elmet and Rothwell Labour Party. Former MP Colin Burgon gave an interesting talk on what we could learn from the left in South America. But it was actually far more than that and he explored how the world and history is interconnected.

The meeting also discussed my motion calling on the Labour Party’s 2015 general election manifesto to include a clear commitment to repeal the the bedroom tax. I know from my local case work and talking to people at community meetings that this is one of the Tory cuts that people hate the most. It effects a surprising number of people as many people who aren’t hurt directly still know someone who is.

I fully understand Ed Miliband and Ed Balls arguing that we can’t make spending commitments yet without knowing what the economy will look like in 2015. However, the bedroom tax is different. It is one spending pledge amongst many. But it is one that we are campaigning strongly on and people feel strongly about. If people are to believe and trust that we will be different then we have to make this one small step to show that we are.

The full text of the motion was:

This constituency notes:

a) On April 1, 2013 the Coalition Government brought in reductions to housing benefit payments where tenants are deemed to be under-occupying their homes. This has been called the ‘bedroom tax’.

b) The restrictions are estimated to affect 1,857 households in council and social housing in Elmet and Rothwell.

c) The estimated average annual increase for one extra bedroom is £473 or £845 for two or more bedrooms.

d) There is insufficient supply of social housing in both Leeds and Elmet and Rothwell to enable most people to move into smaller properties.

e) The bedroom tax is one of a number of changes to social security provision that will hit the most vulnerable and economically disadvantaged hardest.

f) And applauds the efforts of Leeds City Council’s Labour group to help alleviate the worst effects of the bedroom tax.

g) That it is concerned that the Labour Party shadow cabinet has not yet made a clear statement that Labour will repeal the bedroom tax.

Elmet and Rothwell CLP will write to Liam Byrne, the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, requesting that the Labour Party 2015 manifesto contains a clear commitment to repeal the ‘bedroom tax’.

It would be great if you could consider putting a motion through your own constituency also requesting that our manifesto contains a commitment to repeal the bedroom tax.

Rothwell and Elmet MP votes for bedroom tax to hit local families hard

We shouldn’t be surprised, but I’m still disappointed that my local MP Alec Shelbrooke voted for the bedroom tax. In doing so he will cause misery for many of his constituents who will lose the essential money they need to live just because the Tory government thinks they have too many rooms. I don’t see Alec Shelbrooke complaining about the spare rooms in the mansions of millionaires.

Before the last election the Conservative Party fooled voters into thinking it was no longer the ‘Nasty Party’, but cruel and unfair policies like the bedroom tax show it’s just the same as it always was.

As a Rothwell councillor my postbag and advice surgeries are always full of local people desperate for social housing. We should be looking at what we can do to improve the quality and availability of homes for everyone and not penalising those in need.

People won’t forget the Tory government’s cruelty and won’t forgive Alec for his part in it when it comes to the general election and they vote him out.