‘Callous and uncaring’: Manchester MP urges councils to fight David Cameron’s bedroom tax ahead of city centre protest

By Reece Lawrence

A Greater Manchester MP has urged councils across the region to join Labour’s campaign opposing the government’s controversial bedroom tax.

Bury South MP Ivan Lewis spoke out against David Cameron’s plans to cut benefits from thousands of families with spare bedrooms.

A protest by Manchester Labour Left activists will take place in Piccadilly Gardens tomorrow afternoon as part of the drive.

The ‘tax’ will hit 660,000 households nationally, with two thirds of them home to someone with a disability.

Mr Lewis, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, said: “I hope councillors from all parties back Labour’s call for David Cameron to think again on the bedroom tax.

“Two thirds of the households hit are home to someone with a disability and he’s hitting families of soldiers serving our country who will have to find extra money for their son or daughter’s bedroom, and foster families helping children in need of a home.

“In the North West 43% of people living in council or housing association homes who receive housing benefit will be hit. This means 110,000 will be worse off by £728 a year when the bedroom tax comes into force.”

Karen Broady is organising the event at Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester city centre tomorrow, which will be a peaceful demonstration to highlight how the proposed tax could hit Mancunians.

“It’s a disgusting tax,” she said.

“I have aunts and uncles whose children have left home and have been in council houses 30-40 years.

“They’re frightened about how they’re going to eat.”

Ms Broady said that the success of the protest depends on how many people turn out on the day, during which 57 similar protests will take place over the country.

She added: “We have nearly 1,300 saying they’ll come, which has taken me by surprise considering it’s all been arranged online.

“The government are already making concessions, but it shows we’re having an effect.”

She also said the decision to pay housing benefits direct to tenants rather than landlord would add to rent arrears and put housing associations under financial strain.

In Manchester, 15,430 homes will be affected at an annual cost of around £75million – with Salford set to be one of the worst hit areas.

Salford’s Assistant Mayor for Housing, Councillor Gena Merrett, said: “This new Government bedroom tax is callous and uncaring and risks people being turned out of their homes.

“Let’s be clear, this is another Tory tax on ordinary families, struggling to make ends meet. It is another example of the spiteful policies that the Government is inflicting on the most vulnerable.”

In addition, Kate Green MP revealed National Housing Federation figures which show 1,213 people in her Stretford and Urmston constituency will be affected – almost 10% of the city’s total.

She said: “David Cameron’s bedroom tax will hammer families in Stretford and Urmston already struggling to make ends meet, and could actually risk costing local tax-payers a fortune in higher private rents and covering the cost of driving people out of their homes.”

The bedroom tax will come into force in April, and will cut housing benefits from council tenants and those living in housing associations if they are deemed to have at least one spare room.

Conservative councillors Matthew Colledge and Karen Garrido, from Trafford and Salford councils respectively, were unavailable for comment.

Picture courtesy of bisgovuk, with thanks.

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