Latest Stories

The Bedroom Tax - a deduction of Housing Benefit for social rented tenants who have a ‘spare’ bedroom – was introduced in April 2013.

The policy has been widely criticised by housing associations and charities. It takes money away from those with the least to spare. Vulnerable people; people with disabilities; and people on limited fixed incomes, have had their quality of life diminished. Many people have been pushed into debt or forced into unsuitable living arrangements by the Bedroom Tax.

I’ve consistently opposed the policy. It’s coming up to five years now since the tax was introduced and I still regularly hear from constituents who are facing serious issues as a result of this policy.

I have been questioning the Government on this issue and it is clear that even on their own terms the Bedroom Tax has failed.

Bedroom_Tax.jpg

At the time of its introduction the Conservative-Lib Dem Coalition Government claimed that the Bedroom Tax would address two issues. It would reduce the amount the Government spends on Housing Benefit, and it would end under-occupancy.

The Governments own figures show that the Housing Benefit bill has remained fairly consistent, but there was an increase in the years after the Bedroom Tax was first introduced.

2012-13 the total Housing Benefit Bill was £23,899.6m

2013-14 the total Housing Benefit Bill was £24,169.8m

2014-15 the total Housing Benefit Bill was £24,316.6m

2015-16 the total Housing Benefit Bill was £24,243.7m

2016-17 the total Housing Benefit Bill was £23,440.6m

If the Government wants to cut the amount we spend of Housing Benefit they need to address the problems of poverty, low wages, high rents and the cost of living. The Bedroom Tax does not do this.

On under-occupancy I’ve looked at the figures of how many people were subject to the Bedroom Tax when it was introduced, compared to today.

If the Government was right then vast numbers of people should have been forced to move to smaller accommodation by the Bedroom Tax. After more than four years you’d have expected a dramatic reduction in the numbers of those paying the Bedroom Tax as a result.

As you can see here, in August 2013 there were 522,905 households subject to the Bedroom Tax. Four years on there are 406,922.

August_total_reductions.jpg

That’s almost 78% of households stuck with an unjust deduction of their household income for 4 years.

We see a similar pattern when we look at Bolton. In 2013 we had 3,398 households subject to the Bedroom Tax, today it is still 2,277. 67% have not been able to escape this punitive policy.

August_Bolton_Constituencies_reductions.jpg

Just for added information, I also looked into how that reduction looks across different age groups. It is striking that numbers remain high for those over 50.

Age_comparison.jpg

I have always argued that this policy would not achieve what the Government claimed. These figures show that the Government has failed to achieve its own aims.

There simply isn’t enough available housing for everyone to move around easily and we certainly don’t have enough one bedroom properties for single people and couples without children. People are stuck in the homes they moved into in good faith and they are being made poorer because of it.

We need to stop punishing low income families. This is not a solution to the problems with the housing market, the Bedroom Tax needs to go.

The nasty Bedroom Tax has failed and must go

The Bedroom Tax - a deduction of Housing Benefit for social rented tenants who have a ‘spare’ bedroom – was introduced in April 2013. The policy has been widely criticised...

Jobcentre_visit_Dec17b_shrunker.jpg

Last week I visited the local Jobcentre Plus on Blackhorse Street.

I and the other Bolton MPs met with the work coaches at the Jobcentre to discuss the work that they do.

It was encouraging to hear that now when you sign on you have a single work coach, with whom you interact every time you visit - rather than needing to explain your circumstances to a different person each time.

There is a fresh focus on helping people to find work and overcome any barriers that may prevent that. You can even contact them for advice after you move into work if you are still looking for a job.

The Jobcentre itself has been redesigned since my last visit. The clunky job point machines have gone, replaced by PCs that anyone is free to use. Plus there is recognition that not everything needs to be modern, with paper copies of vacancies printed off, organised by sector, and displayed on the walls.

Unfortunately it remains the case that the administration of benefits and the work of the Jobcentre are separated within the institution. Complaints about claims still need to be done via phone or online, and there doesn’t seem to be any effort by the Department for Work and Pensions to make the process easier.

Universal Credit

The introduction of Universal Credit has been a major source of concern for local residents and I took the opportunity to speak to some of the staff who are managing that transition.

I am pleased to report that Bolton Jobcentre is reallocating staff back to supporting claims for existing benefits, such as Jobseekers Allowance. There will be less of a drive to push people into the new Universal Credit system while changes announced during the budget are still being implemented.

Bolton was scheduled to switch to full Universal Credit for all claimants by next June, this has now been pushed back to next November.

I still have serious concerns about the system and I hope that Labour will be able to secure more concessions from the Government to make life easier for claimants before the full rollout happens.

Bolton Jobcentre and Universal Credit

Last week I visited the local Jobcentre Plus on Blackhorse Street. I and the other Bolton MPs met with the work coaches at the Jobcentre to discuss the work that...

Fuel_Poverty.jpg

The Energy Switch Guarantee recently visited Parliament to promote how simple it is to switch energy supplier.

They provided me with the information that over 7600 households in Bolton North East switched electricity supplier and potentially saved hundreds of pounds during the last year. But that’s just 17% of homes in the constituency, so others are still missing out on energy savings.

The Energy Switch Guarantee is a commitment by energy suppliers - from the largest to some of the newest in the market - to make switching simple, speedy and safe and will soon cover 90 percent of the energy market.

This winter I encourage everyone in Bolton North East to take a few minutes to find out if they are on the best deal for them.

If you haven’t switched before you might think it is a bit daunting but as it’s a lot simpler and quicker than you imagine. I’ve previously blogged about The Big Clean Energy Switch, which would be a good place to start if you’re unsure of how to find a better deal.

Energy Switching

The Energy Switch Guarantee recently visited Parliament to promote how simple it is to switch energy supplier. They provided me with the information that over 7600 households in Bolton North...

More Stories >

The Labour Party will place cookies on your computer to help us make this website better.

Please read this to review the updates about which cookies we use and what information we collect on our site.

To find out more about these cookies, see our privacy notice. Use of this site confirms your acceptance of these cookies.