Hull MP backs Bill to exempt unpaid family carers from the Bedroom Tax

Hull North MP Diana Johnson was today (Tuesday 14 October) one of the sponsors of a Labour bid to exempt carers from the Bedroom Tax.

Barbara Keeley MP presented a Ten Minute Rule Bill to the House of Commons with the aim of exempting carers and those needing overnight care from the Bedroom Tax. Figures from the Department of Work and Pensions tell us that 60,000 carers are affected by the Bedroom Tax.

That figure is just for those people in receipt of a Carers Allowance or those with an underlying entitlement to Carer’s Allowance. Other carers who work part-time are also affected by Bedroom Tax.

One of the Government’s policy objectives for the Bedroom Tax was to “improve work-incentives for working-age claimants”, meaning that people could move into work or try to work more hours to pay the Bedroom Tax. This is an inappropriate objective for unpaid family carers, many of whom are cutting back their hours or giving up work to enable them to care.

Diana Johnson MP said: “I’d like to see the cruel and pointless Bedroom Tax abolished completely, but this only looks like happening if there is a Labour Government in 2015. Moreover, Lib Dems - without whose support the Bedroom Tax couldn’t have been introduced in the first place - voted at their recent Conference to keep the Bedroom Tax.

“So, while we await the opportunity to scrap the Bedroom Tax altogether, I will support attempts to address some of the worst aspects of the Bedroom Tax, such as the way that 60,000 carers are currently hit by it.”

The instigator of the Bill, Worsley MP Barbara Keeley said:

“The failure to exempt carers from the Bedroom Tax shows the Conservative-led Government’s complete disregard for fairness.

The 60,000 carers affected include many of those with the heaviest caring workload. They are already caring for 35 hours a week or more and to expect them to start work or to work extra hours to pay the Bedroom Tax is completely unrealistic. Many carers have given up well-paid jobs to care for their loved ones and expecting them to find the cash to pay the Bedroom Tax as well is an insult to these hardworking family carers. The Bedroom Tax puts an additional financial burden on carers and fails to take into account why the health and care needs of the person cared for may result in the need for an additional bedroom.”

“My Bill is a simple, common-sense measure to protect carers from some of the worst effects of the Conservative-led Government’s policy. Labour has pledged to abolish the Bedroom Tax if we are elected in 2015 but I am bringing this Bill forward now so that we can improve the financial situation of carers more quickly.”