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Bedroom tax is ‘necessary’

By MIG: Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: October 13, 2013

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A MOTION calling on the Government to review the so-called “bedroom tax” has been thrown out by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council.

Councillors voted 24 to 19 against the move tabled by Councillor Chris Wood.

His motion, aired at a meeting last week, came amid continuing controversy over the tax.

Benefit claimants lose 14 per cent of their cash if they have one spare bedroom, and 25 per cent if they have two or more unused bedrooms.

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The motion said: “This council recommends that the Government reviews the spare room subsidy based upon how many families have been penalised because smaller properties are unavailable and savings that were put forward cannot be realised.”

However, despite winning support from Labour and Moorlands Democratic Alliance councillors, many of the ruling Conservative members voted not to support it.

Councillor Pam Wood said: “This tax is getting people in a trap.

“They are losing benefits because they can’t move into a smaller property Because they do not have the ability to move people are falling into arrears and are seeking help from loan sharks.

“This then leads to some accessing foodbanks."

Councillor Frank Hopley claimed that people who only had a very small box room should not be made to move.

Councillor Linda Malyon added: “Where two disabled people need two rooms they are penalised. This is landing on people who are ill.

“The rules are being made by people living in comfortable homes.”

However, council leader Sybil Ralphs said that the armed forces and foster carers were excempt.

She said: “Eighty per cent of claimants’ rates are still paid and funds are available for vulnerable people. There are safeguards in place.

“It is a emotive subject, but is a necessary policy to balance the books.” Conservative councillor Gill Heath said the issue had been debated and the benefit cuts were not a “bedroom tax”.

Councillor Mike Worthington said he was proud to be a Conservative, but this was not one of the best policies as it effected the most vulnerable.

Another Conservative councillor Stephen Ellis said: “Last year I purchased my own home after saving for four years.

“I had to make a choice. I looked at three-bedroom houses, but could not afford one “Taxpayers are funding people in three or four-bedroom houses, but working people can’t afford three bedrooms.”

However, Labour councillor Charlotte Atkins pointed to the opening of a foodbank in Leek.

She said: “People are finding it difficult to make ends meat.

“At the recent official opening of the foodbanks we heard from volunteers that families were coming to them because of the benefit changes.

“There are not enough smaller properties for people to move into. There is mounting pressure on vulnerable people.”

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