YOUR MP WRITES: Jessica Morden MP

First published in News by

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.

Comments (9)

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6:12pm Mon 4 Aug 14

anigel says...

First Great Western intend to do absolutely nothing at all to relieve the issues faced daily by commuters in this area.

When put on the hook about what they could do and were going to do, their answer was that they were waiting to see if things would improve when Network Rail electrified the line, In other words FGW refuse to do anything until at least 2017
First Great Western intend to do absolutely nothing at all to relieve the issues faced daily by commuters in this area. When put on the hook about what they could do and were going to do, their answer was that they were waiting to see if things would improve when Network Rail electrified the line, In other words FGW refuse to do anything until at least 2017 anigel
  • Score: 5

7:26pm Mon 4 Aug 14

topdog99 says...

"Without the Lib Dems there would be no bedroom tax"
without the Libdems there would be no Tory government.
Rats let in through the back door, don’t open the door marked U K I P
we could see it all over again.
"Without the Lib Dems there would be no bedroom tax" without the Libdems there would be no Tory government. Rats let in through the back door, don’t open the door marked U K I P we could see it all over again. topdog99
  • Score: 11

7:30pm Mon 4 Aug 14

topdog99 says...

Nick Clegg
“we now think bedroomtax is wrong"

Nepotism is not a problem say Tories “we are all in this together"


"boshilist" LOL
Nick Clegg “we now think bedroomtax is wrong" Nepotism is not a problem say Tories “we are all in this together" "boshilist" LOL topdog99
  • Score: 8

7:36pm Mon 4 Aug 14

topdog99 says...

"boshilist"

BBC News - Tory MP David Davies sorry for 'incompetent government' http://bbc.in/IZWm3Z
"boshilist" BBC News - Tory MP David Davies sorry for 'incompetent government' http://bbc.in/IZWm3Z topdog99
  • Score: 7

7:54pm Mon 4 Aug 14

topdog99 says...

"boshilist"

Having ruined the financial lives of millions of students and disabled people, Clegg wants to stay and finish the job........., out of touch or what?

"Word for today is 'boshilist' impress your friends down the pub, with this unusual piece of Tory vernacular"
letsgobarbie
"boshilist" Having ruined the financial lives of millions of students and disabled people, Clegg wants to stay and finish the job........., out of touch or what? "Word for today is 'boshilist' impress your friends down the pub, with this unusual piece of Tory vernacular" letsgobarbie topdog99
  • Score: 2

12:04am Tue 5 Aug 14

scraptheWAG says...

typical morden sticking up for her core supporters the lazy and the idle. house prices are dirt cheap in gwent (thanks to labour) people should get a job and buy their own
typical morden sticking up for her core supporters the lazy and the idle. house prices are dirt cheap in gwent (thanks to labour) people should get a job and buy their own scraptheWAG
  • Score: -11

8:08am Tue 5 Aug 14

Sometimes says...

It was Labour that spent all the money bailing out the rich bankers and left nothing for the ordinary folk of the country, 5 years it not long enough to erase those memories. Only the rich can afford a Labour government, the rest of us can't afford the tax. The WAG is a good reason not to vote Labour in the future, whens the next referendum to get rid of it?
It was Labour that spent all the money bailing out the rich bankers and left nothing for the ordinary folk of the country, 5 years it not long enough to erase those memories. Only the rich can afford a Labour government, the rest of us can't afford the tax. The WAG is a good reason not to vote Labour in the future, whens the next referendum to get rid of it? Sometimes
  • Score: -6

9:52am Tue 5 Aug 14

Severn40 says...

topdog99 wrote:
"Without the Lib Dems there would be no bedroom tax"
without the Libdems there would be no Tory government.
Rats let in through the back door, don’t open the door marked U K I P
we could see it all over again.
No one has ever thought of the alternatives?

Gordon Brown could have remained PM but he would have had a coalition of 6 to 7 parties including the nationalists and Ulster Unionists. It would fallen apart immediately.

The Tories could of course have formed a minority government but at the first opportunity would have called a general election - which would have given them a majority and unfettered control.

At the end of the day, this is how people voted. They voted for no party to be in overall control.
[quote][p][bold]topdog99[/bold] wrote: "Without the Lib Dems there would be no bedroom tax" without the Libdems there would be no Tory government. Rats let in through the back door, don’t open the door marked U K I P we could see it all over again.[/p][/quote]No one has ever thought of the alternatives? Gordon Brown could have remained PM but he would have had a coalition of 6 to 7 parties including the nationalists and Ulster Unionists. It would fallen apart immediately. The Tories could of course have formed a minority government but at the first opportunity would have called a general election - which would have given them a majority and unfettered control. At the end of the day, this is how people voted. They voted for no party to be in overall control. Severn40
  • Score: 1

11:41am Wed 6 Aug 14

Milkmanofhumankindness says...

From Pink tape 2013

"Dad Tax?

"You may not have noticed amidst the horsemeat hysteria and gay marriage news – but the Children and Families Bill was published this week. I haven’t had time to do more than glance at the Bill, but it looks more or less as we expected it to. The Bill will introduce a presumption of parental involvement, cap care proceedings at 26 weeks, put restrictions on the use of experts on a statutory footing and abolish residence orders in favour of child arrangements orders (although child arrangements orders include those which say where a child will live which is a residence order in all but name).

Having read a little bit about the rather unpopular bedroom tax this week I was struck by the way that the approach of two different government policies in separate areas appear to be in tension with one another. There is lots of criticism of the bedroom tax, but I’m interested in the impact on separated parents and their children (and on foster carers although I don’t deal with that here).

The C &F Bill is borne of an aspiration to ensure both parents are involved in a child’s life (this blog post is not the place to argue whether it will achieve that). From what I can tell the bedroom tax may well make it less economically viable for a separated parent who is not the main carer (by which in this context I mean less than 50% of the time) and who is living in social housing to have overnight contact or shared care. The difficulty already exists for parents in private accommodation who are in receipt of housing benefit because of the way that is worked out based on “need”, but the bedroom tax will mean that some parents in social housing who currently have a spare room that their children stay in may find it very difficult to continue in that accommodation, and by extension to develop or maintain extensive staying contact or shared care. In short separated parents in such accommodation will be treated as over-housed and taxed on the bedroom the kids stay in.

The benefits rules operate on a binary basis, they don’t fit well with shared care or flexible arrangements – when it comes to child benefit, child tax credits and no doubt other benefits, only one parent can be the primary carer, and from that entitlement flows. Some parents in shared care arrangements agree to apportion the child related benefits between them, but this is of course only helpful where there is goodwill between parents. So one can envisage cases where parents situations are polarised – at one end the resident parent is in receipt of child benefit, child tax credit, full housing benefit with no bedroom tax, child support (not significantly reduced by overnight stays) and has accommodation adequate for self and children, whilst the non resident parent is unable to secure or to maintain accommodation large enough for anything more than occasional overnights on a put up bed or sofa, and is liable for child support without reduction based on overnight stays (probably theoretical rather than actual as most HB recipients will be paying minimal CM). And of course if you are a dad stuck in a pokey 1 bed flat the reality is that you need to take the kids out and that costs money (or careful planning and identification of free or cheap activities). The alternative for the non resident parent who wishes to achieve or continue a shared care arrangement involving substantial periods in his home is to somehow absorb the bedroom tax in order to obtain or maintain suitable accommodation, but then he is left with the cost burden of maintaining and entertaining the child whilst in his care with no recognition or support from the state reflected in his benefits. OR….And this is what worries me – the other alternative is to go for broke and say “Well if I want a really meaningful relationship with my children I’ll have to go for sole majority care”.

Of course this rigidity in the benefits system and the mismatch with real life and the flexible approach in the Children Act is not new, but the possible knock on effect of the bedroom tax is an illustration of how there are multiple factors at play when we think about how we make aspirations for the full involvement of both parents in a child’s life a reality rather than a promise.

It is not inconceivable to suppose that for some families where it might otherwise be entirely workable and suitable, shared residence will not be economically feasible – and that this could lead to litigated residence disputes because the benefits system has forced the parties into a winner takes all mentality. It’s not uncommon to hear parents complaining that “s/he only wants residence for the benefits or to get a property” or “he only wants overnights so he can reduce his CSA payments” (often in high conflict cases this is preceded by the startling assertion that “s/he doesn’t love them at all” ). More often than not such assertions are the conflict talking, and of course people’s motivations are quite complex and multilayered. But for parents who desperately want to be able to provide for their children, to be able to spend time with their children, to regularly put their kids to bed and to eat breakfast with their children – the economics of it are important.

Of course the scenario I’m describing won’t apply in all cases, and probably not in many. But it does feel odd that whilst the Government is saying it wants both parents to be fully involved in a child’s life, which proposes to blur the current distinction between residence and contact by abolishing the labels in a drive to get parties to focus on the actual arrangements that would best suit the child in question; that things like the bedroom tax may in effect make it harder for the court to make orders that fall in the middle of that spectrum between residence and contact, by which I mean arrangements involving a substantial amount of overnight stays with the “other” parent that might currently be called shared residence. I just wonder if there might be a few more families for whom some of the options on the menu are greyed out.

Footnote : yes, I’ve referred to the non-resident parent as “he” throughout most of this post. In reality we are most often talking about dads, but of course not always"
From Pink tape 2013 "Dad Tax? "You may not have noticed amidst the horsemeat hysteria and gay marriage news – but the Children and Families Bill was published this week. I haven’t had time to do more than glance at the Bill, but it looks more or less as we expected it to. The Bill will introduce a presumption of parental involvement, cap care proceedings at 26 weeks, put restrictions on the use of experts on a statutory footing and abolish residence orders in favour of child arrangements orders (although child arrangements orders include those which say where a child will live which is a residence order in all but name). Having read a little bit about the rather unpopular bedroom tax this week I was struck by the way that the approach of two different government policies in separate areas appear to be in tension with one another. There is lots of criticism of the bedroom tax, but I’m interested in the impact on separated parents and their children (and on foster carers although I don’t deal with that here). The C &F Bill is borne of an aspiration to ensure both parents are involved in a child’s life (this blog post is not the place to argue whether it will achieve that). From what I can tell the bedroom tax may well make it less economically viable for a separated parent who is not the main carer (by which in this context I mean less than 50% of the time) and who is living in social housing to have overnight contact or shared care. The difficulty already exists for parents in private accommodation who are in receipt of housing benefit because of the way that is worked out based on “need”, but the bedroom tax will mean that some parents in social housing who currently have a spare room that their children stay in may find it very difficult to continue in that accommodation, and by extension to develop or maintain extensive staying contact or shared care. In short separated parents in such accommodation will be treated as over-housed and taxed on the bedroom the kids stay in. The benefits rules operate on a binary basis, they don’t fit well with shared care or flexible arrangements – when it comes to child benefit, child tax credits and no doubt other benefits, only one parent can be the primary carer, and from that entitlement flows. Some parents in shared care arrangements agree to apportion the child related benefits between them, but this is of course only helpful where there is goodwill between parents. So one can envisage cases where parents situations are polarised – at one end the resident parent is in receipt of child benefit, child tax credit, full housing benefit with no bedroom tax, child support (not significantly reduced by overnight stays) and has accommodation adequate for self and children, whilst the non resident parent is unable to secure or to maintain accommodation large enough for anything more than occasional overnights on a put up bed or sofa, and is liable for child support without reduction based on overnight stays (probably theoretical rather than actual as most HB recipients will be paying minimal CM). And of course if you are a dad stuck in a pokey 1 bed flat the reality is that you need to take the kids out and that costs money (or careful planning and identification of free or cheap activities). The alternative for the non resident parent who wishes to achieve or continue a shared care arrangement involving substantial periods in his home is to somehow absorb the bedroom tax in order to obtain or maintain suitable accommodation, but then he is left with the cost burden of maintaining and entertaining the child whilst in his care with no recognition or support from the state reflected in his benefits. OR….And this is what worries me – the other alternative is to go for broke and say “Well if I want a really meaningful relationship with my children I’ll have to go for sole majority care”. Of course this rigidity in the benefits system and the mismatch with real life and the flexible approach in the Children Act is not new, but the possible knock on effect of the bedroom tax is an illustration of how there are multiple factors at play when we think about how we make aspirations for the full involvement of both parents in a child’s life a reality rather than a promise. It is not inconceivable to suppose that for some families where it might otherwise be entirely workable and suitable, shared residence will not be economically feasible – and that this could lead to litigated residence disputes because the benefits system has forced the parties into a winner takes all mentality. It’s not uncommon to hear parents complaining that “s/he only wants residence for the benefits or to get a property” or “he only wants overnights so he can reduce his CSA payments” (often in high conflict cases this is preceded by the startling assertion that “s/he doesn’t love them at all” ). More often than not such assertions are the conflict talking, and of course people’s motivations are quite complex and multilayered. But for parents who desperately want to be able to provide for their children, to be able to spend time with their children, to regularly put their kids to bed and to eat breakfast with their children – the economics of it are important. Of course the scenario I’m describing won’t apply in all cases, and probably not in many. But it does feel odd that whilst the Government is saying it wants both parents to be fully involved in a child’s life, which proposes to blur the current distinction between residence and contact by abolishing the labels in a drive to get parties to focus on the actual arrangements that would best suit the child in question; that things like the bedroom tax may in effect make it harder for the court to make orders that fall in the middle of that spectrum between residence and contact, by which I mean arrangements involving a substantial amount of overnight stays with the “other” parent that might currently be called shared residence. I just wonder if there might be a few more families for whom some of the options on the menu are greyed out. Footnote : yes, I’ve referred to the non-resident parent as “he” throughout most of this post. In reality we are most often talking about dads, but of course not always" Milkmanofhumankindness
  • Score: 2

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