Birkenhead MP calls on social landlords to help tenants

The reaction to the upcoming bedroom tax is becoming more and more extreme recently, as at first there were social landlords claiming that they thought it was unfair, but now there have been protests and MPs calling on social landlords to protect their tenants by any means possible. For instance, Frank Field, an MP for Birkenhead in Wirral has said that he wants councils and housing associations to take direct action to help their tenants and even ‘knock down walls’.

In a debate over the upcoming bedroom tax, Mr Field said: “I hope landlords will brick up the doors to spare bedrooms and, where appropriate, knock down walls so that the properties can safely fit the tenants. I have never before asked for direct action. I do so now because I feel that the measures are grossly unfair. In more than three decades I have never debated such a vicious cut. Even if most people wished to do what the Government want them to do they would be unable to do it.”

“One of the Merseyside’s Police’s worries about the measure is that there has been a significant increase in the number of people being encouraged to use spare bedrooms to grow pot. One consequence of this Government action will be to enable those gangs who try to enrol vulnerable constituents to make extra money. That will be a real first for the Government. They should be proud shouldn’t they?” There have also been concerns from private landlords and landlord insurance companies over the bedroom tax, as it could lead to legal battles which could prove costly, or even more dependence on the private rental sector.

Noting this, Mr Field went on to say: “Let us suppose that the tenants could move. The housing stock is not available, but suppose they could. We know from those that have managed to find alternative accommodation that it actually costs more. For example one-bedroom places in Birkenhead average £71 a week, but in the private sector they are £88 a week. If every wonderful tenant in Birkenhead affected by this vicious little measure did what the Government wanted the savings would not be made and the housing bill would go up, defeating the measure.”

However, Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions minister Steve Webb defended the bedroom tax, and said that the amount that tenants would have to pay would be as little as £2 a day, which he claims is not much to ask for a spare room.

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