Today’s reports of an astonishing 60,000 households with carers being hit by the Bedroom Tax are another damaging blow for David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith.
In June David Cameron said, “They (carers) do an amazing job. If they stopped caring, the cost to the taxpayer would be phenomenal, so we should do what we can to support our carers”. And a month later the Prime Minister told the House of Commons, “When it comes to the spare room subsidy, anyone who needs to have a carer sleeping in another bedroom is exempt from it.”
Yet today we see the Department for Work and Pensions confirming that, ‘around 60,000 households affected by the removal of the spare room subsidy policy are in receipt of carer’s allowance or have an underlying entitlement to carer’s allowance.’
What a shambles.
Throughout 2013 we’ve seen mounting evidence of the damage which the Bedroom Tax is doing;
- 660,000 families including 400,000 disabled people. Some of Britain’s hardest-pressed low-income households are being forced to find, on average, an extra £720 a year – or face losing their home
- Surveys have suggested that as many as half of those affected by the Bedroom Tax are behind with their rent, hitting the finances of affordable housing providers at a time when housebuilding is already at its lowest level since the 1920s and risking an explosion of evictions and homelessness
- Thousands of hard-pressed families hit by the Bedroom Tax are being forced to rely on food banks just to make ends meet.
- And now we know that 60,000 households with carers are being hit by the Bedroom Tax.
Little wonder that Iain Duncan Smith disappeared off to Paris in November rather than face questions about his Bedroom Tax in Parliament.
Warm words from David Cameron about his admiration for carers mean nothing when we see how his government is making their lives harder.
Carers are a lifeline for disabled people. The work they do is invaluable, it can’t be costed, and is often done whilst holding down a job. The stress of having to move is the last thing they need when they are working round the clock to enable those they care for to live dignified lives.
Carers need the support of a government that understands their vital, and often unsung role, in our communities. Yet David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith have shown they are only prepared to stand up for a privileged few, with tax cuts for millionaires, while hitting the poorest and most vulnerable with their hated Bedroom Tax.
The government should scrap the Bedroom Tax. If they don’t, Labour will. Any costs would be covered by reversing tax measures such as the shares for rights scheme that benefit only the wealthiest and cracking down on false self employment in the construction industry.
That shows the difference that Labour values and priorities would mean and how a Labour government could change things for the better. If you want to see Bedroom Tax scrapped, then join our campaign, and say you’re with us.
Rachel Reeves is the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions