29 Jul 2014

Bedroom tax campaign: the next front

Wirral Labour is claiming a £75,000 "bedroom tax relief fund" is being established according to this article in the Liverpool Echo.

Unfortunately, the article gives a very misleading picture and swallows Labour spin hook, line and sinker.

The £75,000 comes from a Magenta Living fund earmarked for community projects across Birkenhead. The constituency committee comprising Labour, Lib Dem and Green councillors agreed on Wednesday that this would be better used to support Magenta tenants affected by the bedroom tax.

But, has Magenta agreed to divert the community projects money towards tenants in arrears due to the bedroom tax?

The Echo article says Magenta is being "pushed" to create the relief fund. In other words, there has been no agreement yet on Magenta's part to use this £75,000 for the purposes claimed.

Moreover, £75,000 is a drop in the ocean when compared with the £2.6m annual cost to Wirral victims of the bedroom tax.

I have previously blogged about Labour's u-turn on contesting successful bedroom tax appeal - a u-turn in direct response to Green Party pressure.

But rather than prematurely claim sole credit for funds that do not yet exist and will do very little to alleviate the impact of the bedroom tax, Wirral Labour could take concrete steps itself to assist tenants hit by the bedroom tax. Specifically, Labour could follow Liverpool's example and ensure that Wirral Council desists from sending representatives to tribunal hearings. This will not only smooth the appeals process for hundreds of tenants but will save significant sums for a council that never fails to remind us how cash-strapped it is.

That is the next front in the fight against the bedroom tax and that is what the Green Party will be pushing for.

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