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Labour call on leaders over 'bedroom tax'.

CITY bosses are calling on their national Labour leaders to come out in opposition to the 'bedroom tax' which will affect more than 11,000 Liverpool homes.

In a debate on the controversial plan to slash housing benefits if people are found to be 'under-occupying' flats or houses, senior members said the national party had not done enough to stand against the coalition-government led scheme.

Labour councillors told the town hall they believed the 'bedroom tax' could cause the same widespread outrage as the poll tax of the early 1990s, and would "take from the poor to give to the rich."

So far the Labour Party under Ed Miliband has failed to oppose the move and senior front benches have claimed the party would still implement the tax if people turned down the opportunity to move to a smaller property.

Cllr Louise Baldock, who represents Kensington where 367 households will face having to find between PS600 and PS1000 extra rent a year once the measures are enforced in April, said: "This will be the most important and damaging change people have endured in the last two decades.

"The Labour Party nationally has not been particularly forthcoming on what it would do about this after the next election. There are 11,000 families in Liverpool who will be affected and the Labour Party should state loud and clear that it would abolish it.

"If we separate our differences and fight for the vulnerable what are we in politics for?" County ward Labour Cllr Eryl Owen, in her maiden speech to the council, called the tax a "national disgrace" that would in some cases take food from children's mouths.

The debate followed Labour shadow cabinet MP Helen Goodman's statement earlier this week that: "We've said that the bedroom tax should only apply if people have been offered a smaller place to live and turned it down because, obviously, it is better to use the housing stock more efficiently.

"In the short to medium term we did need to bring down the housing benefit bill and we had said that we would reduce the rents that were paid under housing benefit in the private sector and that's where the rents were really spiralling up very fast, much more than in the social sector, which is where this bedroom tax is being applied now."

The council Liberal Democrat group came in for criticism from the Labour and Liberal benches for its part in a coalition that supported the bedroom tax, but while no Lib Dems spoke they voted unanimously to support the motion condemning the plans. ? An anti-bedroom tax demo is planned for Derby Square, Liverpool, from 1pm Saturday.
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 14, 2013
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