MP hails watering down of bed tax

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A CONTROVERSIAL tax which has hit thousands of Wiganers could be revamped after MPs backed new proposals.

A Liberal Democrat bill aimed at addressing criticisms of the under-occupancy tax - known as the bedroom tax - was voted through the House of Commons last week.

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy called the move “a step in the right direction” as dozens of Tory MPs ignored party orders and stayed away from the vote.

Yvonne Fovargue MP said: “David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s cruel and unfair Bedroom Tax has hit the poorest and most vulnerable in our community.

“Despite the clear evidence that the Bedroom Tax is causing misery, hardship and forcing thousands to rely on food banks, the Lib Dems and Tories have voted again and again in favour of it.

“If this government won’t ditch the Bedroom Tax, then the next Labour government will.”

The tax, which reduces benefit pay-outs for social housing tenants if they are deemed to have extra rooms, is said to have affected Wigan borough significantly more than other areas of the country.

As a result, the demand for houses with multiple bedrooms has dropped significantly with demand for one bedroom properties far outweighing supply.

It may have caused an increase in tenancy terminations in the borough, according to a Wigan and Leigh Housing report from earlier this year.

Lisa Nandy MP said: “David Cameron promised that disabled people would not be affected when it was introduced, figures have since shown that around two-thirds of people who have been hit by the tax are disabled.

“Unfortunately this vote will not abolish the bedroom tax, as Labour will do if elected next year, but it is a step in the right direction.”

The changes put forward last week would mean tenants who can prove there is no suitable accommodation available for them to downsize would be exempt.

And disabled people who need a spare bedroom or who have had their homes adapted would be exempt.

The Labour Party has already announced it will abolish the tax if it wins the next election.

It was revealed two months ago that scores of Wigan families have house-swapped in order to avoid being penalised under the scheme.