Anger over tax’s ‘north south divide’


WIGAN’S MP has launched a stinging criticism of the controversial so-called “bedroom tax” amid suggestions of a North-South divide.

Lisa Nandy spoke out, claiming research by the Local Government Association (LGA) showed families across the North West have been hit almost twice as hard by the policy as those in the South West.

The LGA figures reveal 110,000 people in the region have been hit by the removal of the spare room subsidy, which reduces the amount of housing benefit public sector tenants are entitled to if they are deemed to be under-occupying their home. Of these, 69,000 people have a disability.

The North West has also been hit with a huge bill for emergency payments designed to help struggling tenants, with around £17.5m being shelled out compared to £9.1m in the South West.

Ms Nandy said: “Every time ministers try to defend the bedroom tax it becomes clearer just how out of touch they are. Just recently they tried to claim these emergency payments weren’t being used and now we discover millions have been spent in the North West alone. It’s time the Government woke up. The bedroom tax is a cruel and unfair policy that may cost more than it saves. Instead of stop-gap measures, they should abolish the bedroom tax and stop the misery in Wigan.”

LGA research revealed many town halls believe there has been a spike in discretionary housing payments, which are given out to struggling households.

Last month it was revealed that hundreds of Wigan folk may be eligible for a refund because of an exemption for those who have been continuously on housing benefit since at least January 1 1996. Residents who think they may fit the criteria can contact Wigan Council customer services on 01942 828644.