Andrew Smith MP

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Andrew backs calls to repeal the 'bedroom tax'

Bedroom_Tax_10.jpgAndrew will vote today to abolish the bedroom tax being imposed by the Lib Dem / Tory government. 

The Bedroom Tax hits over 400,000 disabled people nationwide. The Housing Federation estimates there are 3247 households affected in Oxfordshire, 777 of them in Oxford East. For the vast majority of those affected, there is nowhere smaller to move to, hitting vulnerable people with an average bill of £720 a year through no fault of their own. Instead of reducing the housing benefit bill, there is now a real risk the Bedroom Tax will cost more than it saves, as rent arrears mounts up and an increasing number of tenants are faced with the possibility of eviction.

Andrew said: "The Bedroom Tax is leaving many local families with nowhere to go and on the edge of spiralling debt. It is important that people know that if elected to government in 2015 Labour will abolish this unfair charge; but it would be even better if we could get it abolished now. That is why I am proud to say I will vote today to do just that.

"The Labour Party has promised to repeal the tax in government, and because we know that in these tough financial times we can't borrow more to pay for social security, we've set out a clear plan to pay for the repeals by cutting down on tax loop holes and avoidance." 

The next Labour Government will repeal the Bedroom Tax without extra borrowing. To cover the £470m cost of repealing the Bedroom Tax, funds have been earmarked from:

* reversing George Osborne's recent tax cut for hedge funds announced in Budget 2013;
* reversing George Osborne's controversial "shares for rights" scheme which has been rejected by businesses, has opened up a tax loophole and according to the Office for Budget Responsibility will lead to £1bn being lost to the Exchequer; and
* tackling disguised employment in the construction industry.

Andrew went on to say: "At the same time as the Coalition Government is cutting taxes for the wealthiest, they are penalising disabled people and their loved ones that work so hard caring for them.

"It's heartbreaking to see the effect of this policy on some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Many constituents who have contacted me to express their concerns are disabled, or are on very low incomes and simply can't find the money to meet the shortfall. The shortage of affordable housing in Oxford means that downsizing simply isn't an option for many of those affected.

"Not only is the policy cruel and unworkable for all those affected, but it is placing a huge strain on local authorities such as Oxford City Council to meet the shortfall and to protect the most vulnerable - which means valuable resources are diverted from elsewhere. The Labour Party's policy to repeal this tax isn't only fair but makes sense. The Tory-led Government should follow our lead."

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