We need to look at those who can pay, not those who cannot

We note the end of your report that the DWP has submitted to local newspapers on the subject of the bedroom tax.

We are told up to 100 Burnley social housing tenants have been “helped” into smaller accommodation. But they have been deprived of choice over where they live and control over when they move. For people we have met while campaigning in the town centre, this has been painful and humiliating. It has caused real disruption in family networks and removed key stable elements in the social mix on former council estates, as well as a feeling of being prematurely pushed into the ranks of senior citizens.

It does subsequently turn out that many long-standing tenants should not have been subjected to the bedroom tax at all if their tenancy dated back to 1997 or earlier – but of course once people have moved they cannot get their house back again.

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Then we are introduced once more to the problem of the deficit of £1b. a year in the national housing benefit budget. But this deficit is not caused by the housing arrangements of hundreds of thousands of early retired, part-time or voluntary workers in towns like Burnley but by the massive immiseration and instability resulting from the economic crisis.

And if the sums to pay for the crisis aren’t working out, may we suggest two possible savings from tax-payers’ money? The annual cost of subsidies to the richest 94 farmers in the UK and the annual cost of Trident nuclear weapons each comes to more than £1b. a year. In a real crisis we need to look to those who can pay, not those who cannot.

Margaret Smith


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