Rt Hon David Cameron MP
10 Downing Street
Dear Mr Cameron
The Bedroom Tax and its impact on Westminster
I am writing to you to urge you to abandon plans to introduce the Bedroom Tax planned to take effect in April 2013.
Over 420 Westminster families will lose nearly £18 a week and a further 91 families will lose nearly £35 a week when the new Bedroom Tax is introduced in April 2013, according to figures released by Westminster City Council.
In all, 515 Westminster Council tenants will be caught by the new Bedroom Tax which reduces Housing Benefit if tenants are deemed to be under-occupying their homes by one or more bedrooms.
Westminster Council says that it will try to offer smaller homes to all 515 tenants by April 2013, but I believe that there is no way that this can be achieved in the next 12 weeks, particularly as in the past 8 months the Council has managed to transfer just 34 tenants to smaller homes.
Residents have asked me to make the following points which, so far, have remained unanswered;
– If a tenant does manage to find a property to downsize to, will they be compensated for the money they have spent making their house or flat a home, over many years, as they were told they had ‘lifetime’ tenancies? Will the new flat be re-decorated to the same high standard as the flat that they have vacated? Will their removal expenses be met?
– If a tenant is willing to downsize, but the Council does not have the available homes for them to move to, what will be the outcome of that situation? Will there be automatic discretionary payments to meet their rent payments as, in this situation, it will be of no fault of their own?
This is a truly appalling situation where some of the very poorest Westminster residents will lose nearly £18 a week through no fault of their own. The Bedroom Tax will push more people in to poverty and in to debt and into the clutches of legal and illegal loan sharks. It makes no sense to force through this mean and nasty change in the rules when it is impossible for the majority of Westminster tenants to move even if they wanted to. There simply are not enough homes available to enable tenants to move to smaller homes but, as the rules currently stand, the poorest families will still have their benefits cuts.
This is a shameful and disgraceful way to treat the most vulnerable people and I urge you, even at this late stage, to abandon the Bedroom Tax plans.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg,
Leader of the Opposition