Parliamentary sketch – Making room for reasonableness
Do we now live in a classless and more equal society?
Consider this. At least one in every 10 of our homes are bought and sold as recreational investments by wealthy absentees to be used as holiday homes, etc. Meanwhile some hard working low paid families will be evicted from their council houses because the Government believes they have one bedroom more than they deserve.
We debated the Government’s so called “spare room subsidy” or, to others, “bedroom tax” in Westminster this week. As far as I’m concerned the Government has crossed a line…again! They’ve once again strayed way beyond the “we’re all in it together” facade.
If Government Ministers are confident that this is the right policy then they should come down to meet some of my constituents who are affected by it and look them in the eye as they attempt to justify it.
I fully understand that in a Coalition Government Liberal Democrat Ministers are expected to hold their noses as they back a Tory policy as part of the grubby compromises that keep the show on the road. But let us be straight about what this policy is because it won’t increase the stock of desperately needed affordable homes for local people.
The fact is that the spare room penalty/bedroom tax victimises the most marginalised in our communities; undermines family life; penalises the hard working low paid for being prepared to stomach low paid work; masks the excessive cost and disruption caused to those disabled who have to move from expensively adapted homes; and is Dickensian in its social divisiveness. It is an immoral policy.
Will Conservative Ministers who live in multiple spare room mansions and who strenuously opposed the Liberal Democrats’ “Mansion Tax” be prepared to look the victims of this policy in the eye?
Even where those tenants affected are prepared to move to up-root themselves, from a long standing family home to a smaller property, they tell me they can’t find anything within 20-30 miles. So to escape the “bedroom tax” they would have to move many miles from their community, their work place, local school, family and social networks, church, etc, and re-establish themselves in a place which they may consider to be completely alien (yes, even Camborne! (I’m joking)). Or of course they could choose a property in the private sector and cost the taxpayer more!
The victims of this policy are being made to pay for the failures of successive Governments to build enough three and four bedroom homes. When I was involved in this sector before my election we knew that the marginal cost of adding another bedroom onto each newly built home was a few percent, but would offer greater flexibility in the decades to come. The introduction of a spare room penalty will discourage this approach.
I’m afraid I have to say, if the policy isn’t based on class prejudice it is based on indifference to the most vulnerable families in our communities.
You can contact Andrew George by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. His constituency office can be contacted at Trewella, 18 Mennaye Road, Penzance, Cornwall, TR18 4NG. Telephone: 01736 360020.
Andrew George MP
Kernow a’n West ha Syllan
West Cornwall and the Scillies
Constituency of St Ives
Tel: 01736 360020
Fax: 01736 332866
12th November 2013