At the beginning of April an important anniversary slipped by for more than half a million people across the UK, including many of the most vulnerable in Vauxhall. The bedroom tax passed its first birthday.
It came and went with little fanfare or celebration from its parents, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. In Lambeth, you would be hard pressed to find any coalition politician who made reference to it, let alone be prepared to sing it a eulogy on the anniversary of its implementation.
In fact, Lambeth coalition politicians seem to be very uncomfortable about mentioning the tax at all. During the recent Vassall by-election, the Lambeth Lib Dems chose not to mention the bedroom tax in the deluge of frenzied and over excited leaflets that tested the area’s recycling bags to destruction.
Could it be that Lambeth Lib Dems know that, in an area with many people affected by the cost of living crisis, numerous residents are being forced to breaking point by the introduction of this tax?
By taking away valuable housing benefit support, the bedroom tax will, according to the government’s own impact assessment, affect over 400,000 people who have a registered disability. Many other people will also be affected, including a large number who struggled to pay their rent and put food on the table before the tax was even implemented.
The rest of this post could be filled with numerous other depressing statistics. But the key fact is that the people most affected by this tax are not scroungers or welfare dodgers. They are not the caricatures who appear in the Daily Mail. They are vulnerable people who have in many cases been dealt a tough hand in life through no fault of their own.
And perhaps the most perverse impact of the tax – leaving aside the fact it may not even save the government any money – is that those who want to downsize their property to move out of the grasp of this tax are unable to do so because of the housing crisis that, as every Londoner knows, is particularly bad in the capital.
At the beginning of April, the Vassall Labour team raised these issues in a letter published in the South London Press. We felt compelled to write having spoken to residents, some in tears, about the impact of the bedroom tax on their lives. We, along with our fellow Lambeth Labour colleagues, have worked hard to support these residents.
If you are struggling with the impact of the bedroom tax, please have a look at Shelter’s advice centre or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org for support.
Labour knows that the only way to put an end to this misery is to scrap a tax which is inflicting needless pain on families across Vauxhall. Support Labour’s pledge to scrap the tax by signing up to our online campaign and don’t forget to vote Labour in the local elections on May 22nd.