Tuesday, 31 March 2015

'Party politics' stopping tenants from getting bedroom tax discretionary payments

Local councils are ‘playing politics’ by not granting discretionary payments to tenants affected by the bedroom tax, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats said yesterday.

Simon Hughes MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark told at the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow that the policy ‘was not the crisis many people predicted.’

Chief executive of the National Federation of Housing David Orr had earlier branded the policy ‘the worst since the poll tax’, and called on members to scrap it.

Speaking at a fringe meeting on housing Mr Hughes said: ‘I have to say it isn’t the crisis many people predicted. 

‘The discretionary fund is significant, we were told it would be spent way before the end of the year, it hasn’t.

‘Actually, the number of people coming into my surgery to talk about it is far fewer than expected. 

‘The problem is that when people apply for discretionary help, many councils turn them down, and there is no independent appeal system… some councils are playing politics with this.’

Councils have been granted a pot of £185 million this year to provide assistance to those struggling to pay their rent. 

Calling on members to oppose the bedroom tax, Mr Orr said: ‘The bedroom tax isn’t a reform, its a disaster. It is the worst policy since the poll tax, bar none. 

‘Disabled people being thrown out is an outrage, and we really need you to be on ourside about it. 

‘Aside from the personal consequences, it means we will be able to build less homes.’

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