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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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The ‘Bedroom Tax’

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I have been contacted by some constituents to ask about my views on the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ a characterisation of the effect of regulations within the Welfare Reform Act 2012. 

I believe this legislation is an unjust burden on the most vulnerable in our society.  The government is using powers in the Welfare Reform Act 2012 to ensure that from April 2013 working-age social tenants in receipt of Housing Benefit will experience a reduction in their benefit entitlement if they live in housing that is deemed to be too large for their needs. The main exception to this will be households who are not of working-age.

Whilst I do believe there are issues of under-occupancy, the government’s policy doesn’t take account of families who have legitimate reasons for the need of an extra bedroom or families with a person with a disability living in a home which has been specially modified.

Furthermore, the Department for Work and Pensions admits that there aren’t enough smaller properties for families to move to, but the ‘bedroom tax’ will still hit households that do not have the option to move. The application of these regulations does not solve the under-occupancy problem or help with housing shortages.  It actually puts another burden on hardworking families and people in our community who need support not a government pushing them further into debt.

That is why the Labour Party has said that we will repeal the legislation if we form the next government.  The debate on the 12th November was called by us to expose the application of the regulations on tenants now.

I was not in Parliament for this debate as I was away on other Parliamentary duties. But I was paired with a member of the government benches who was also absent from Parliament.  This pairing system is one which has operated for many years.  It is organised by the parties to ensure that the margin between those voting in favour and those voting against is not affected when MPs are absent on legitimate Parliamentary business or are ill.  If I had been there to vote the Conservative MP, who was with me on Parliamentary business, would also have been present and the result would still have been a difference of 26.

I recognize the need for responsible welfare reform, but believe the government has implemented plans that will hurt some of our most vulnerable citizens.  I will continue to oppose such ill-conceived plans and support proposals that lead to a fair welfare system.


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