Parliamentary sketch – Meteorological forecast: Hurricane George to hit Westminster Friday morning
Why am I at the centre of a political storm again this week, I hear you ask? (No, I haven’t resigned my seat following lunch with a wealthy UKIP donor…)
I am using the good fortune of coming top of the poll amongst MPs to revoke a policy recently introduced by the Coalition Government – the highly contentious Spare Room Subsidy/Bedroom Tax!
I opposed to this policy since it was first mooted. I launched campaigns, spoke in the House and voted against the policy.
The Government of course claims it is cutting benefit from families in social housing if they have more bedrooms than they need to save money. But this doesn’t make it right, nor does it really save money.
So why am I against the Spare Room Subsidy/Bedroom Tax?
First, it is not the fault of those in housing need that successive Governments have failed to build enough homes of the right size.
Second, it would be nonsense to move disabled people from homes which have been expensively converted to meet their need at taxpayers’ expense only to have to do it all again in another.
Third, it is rare, in West Cornwall (and more so on the Isles of Scilly) that a family could find a suitable alternative smaller home in their own community – thus meaning that they would have to move 20-30 miles away or more and uproot themselves from their family, social circle, job prospects, church/local societies, etc., irrespective of how long their family has been living in and associated with that community.
Fourth, just because you are poor you should be as entitled to a stable family home as those who are better off.
Fifth, it appears to me that there is a sinister agenda, creating an environment in which poor families turn on their poor neighbours to blame them if they are living in overcrowded accommodation, rather than looking further afield to the real culprits.
You have to see this in context. The last time the Conservatives were in power on their own they introduced a different “Bedroom Tax” – one which involved subsidising the wealthy, through a 50% discount on their council tax, to enjoy the benefit of a spare bedroom or more in their second home hundreds of miles away. Hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money was spent subsidising the wealthy to have their second homes when thousands of local families couldn’t afford their first.
The Bill also seeks to pave the way to help families get a toehold on the housing market through buying a share in a home – helped by the State. But the primary purpose of the Bill is to exempt as many people as possible from the impact of the Bedroom Tax.
It is not easy to stand up on the Government benches to oppose the Government. But I’ve done it before. I hope to succeed…
You can contact Andrew George by email: email@example.com. 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
2nd September 2014