John Robertson has spoken out against the damaging effects of the Bedroom Tax, which came into force in 2013.
You can see his speech here:
This is a tax, by any other name.
It is a horrendous and pernicious tax, which targets some of the most vulnerable people living in our communities. It attacks the elderly, it attacks the disabled, it attacks families of all sizes, and above all else it attacks those who are already struggling to get by, day after day.
I am incredibly saddened to say that my city of Glasgow is one of the worst City’s affected throughout the whole of the UK.
Currently, 12,079 people have had a reduction applied. And in my constituency alone, more than 60% of people have lost more than £10 a week. For people who don’t have much to live on in the first place, the bedroom tax has a crippling effect.
More than half of the people affected in Glasgow are over 50, and more than 40% are not in work.
But, Madame Deputy Speaker, it’s too easy for us to forget the people that lie behind the statistics. It’s too easy to forget the Grandparents and the single parents that are hurt by these numbers.
One constituent of mine, Christina, wrote to me and explained her situation. A self-employed 60 year old who has lived in her house for 19 years with her son, who recently had moved out. She just gets by in life, but gives all the time she can to voluntary work in her community, and suffers from mental health issues.
She feels safe in her home, and in her community.
She’s not opposed to downsizing, and she understands that another family may need the two bedrooms more than she, but she cannot afford to move.
She can’t afford to buy the new white goods she’ll need in a new home, she can’t afford to furnish and decorate a new home and she can’t afford a removal van to take her possessions with her.
Most importantly, she can’t afford the £41 a month she’ll need to make up the difference. For people like Christina, it literally is a choice between rent and food.
The shocking thing, Madame Deputy Speaker?
She’s not alone.
She joins thousands of people across the city. Just like another constituent of mine, John.
John is a disabled man who lives on his own. He has two teenage kids at school. He wants to keep in touch with his family, he wants them to be a part of his life, and he wants to be a part of theirs too.
He keeps a bedroom ready for them, so they have the freedom to come and visit, at weekends, stop in on a week day – to just come and go as they please. He desperately wants to keep his family together.
Moving to a one bedroom house would end that freedom for him and his children. I can’t imagine the hurt and anger that I would feel, as a father of three, if I had to tell my children or my grandchildren what John now has to tell his kids; that they weren’t able to come and stay if they wanted to, or needed to, because of this Tory government.
This is the tip of the iceberg of suffering that those affected by the bedroom tax have to go through.
People like John and Christina are told that they should just move to a one-bedroom flat, as though it’s easy. The truth of the matter is that it isn’t easy. The number of people who have to make up the 14% reduction far outweighs the number of single bedroom properties. People are locked into the homes they are in at the moment.
And why should people be punished for having grown up children who live at University during term time, and return for the summer? Why should disabled people suffer because they require vast amounts of equipment to survive?
But most of all, why should people – hardworking people, who volunteer in their communities, who have provided for their family, but who struggle to get by day, after day, after day – be forced by this Tory Government to make the choice between paying their rent, paying for their electricity or putting food on the table?
That is why, Madam Deputy Speaker, I call this an evil tax on those that Government should stand up for and defend. That’s why I am so proud to vote to axe this tax today.