IT IS nearly 18 months since the Coalition Government brought in the bedroom tax. It’s worth pointing out that it was the Coalition, not just the Tories, who dreamt up this cruel policy, because just before Parliament went into recess, the Liberal Democrats tried to partially disown it.
Nick Clegg said that they no longer support it in its current form. However, he fell short of saying he would get rid of it.
Without the Lib Dems there would be no bedroom tax. Despite the repeated warnings from Housing Associations, tenants groups, charities like Shelter Cymru, and the Labour Party, the Lib Dems have had no problem at all in voting for the bedroom tax time and time again. In fact, there have been no fewer than six opportunities for the Lib Dems to oppose it and do the right thing.
I’ve seen first-hand just how damaging this policy has been for constituents who are unable to move because smaller properties are just not available and they can’t afford to meet the extra cost. Even the Government commissioned analysis of the bedroom tax, published last month, admitted that 60 per cent of the 523,000 tenants affected are unable to meet the extra cost, and only 4.5 per cent were able to move to a smaller home.
Labour has committed to repeal the bedroom tax if we win the next election. After the summer, Labour MPs can call for another vote on this. Perhaps this time the Lib Dems might finally do the right thing.
Last month, I held a debate in Parliament on cross border rail services to highlight the serious overcrowding commuters face on train services to Bristol and beyond. Rail users regularly have to cram into overcrowded carriages, with some, at times, being left on the platform. I have been working with the excellent Severn Tunnel Action Group on this campaign and following the debate we met with First Great Western to highlight the frustration of commuters. The company are looking at the issue of the lack of carriages and better connections and will be reporting back to us soon.
Rosemary Butler highlighted in her column the excellent range of things to do around Newport over the summer. I agree with all her picks. Thanks to Newport City Council we are spoilt for choice with a range of sports activities available - not to mention the playschemes and library programmes. If you have exhausted those options with four weeks to go, there is also much on offer at Newport Wetlands and Magor Marsh.