Labour MP Paul Goggins has called for an apology to more than a thousand Wythenshawe families who have been pushed into rent arrears because of the bedroom tax.
New rules were introduced in April which affect housing benefit, paid to less well-off tenants to help with rent. Typically claimants receive between £50 and £100 a week.
But since April families deemed to have too much living space by their local authorities receive a reduced payment. Under the government’s so-called “size criteria”, families are assessed for the number of bedrooms they actually need.
The move was dubbed the bedroom tax by campaigners who claim the changes will have a devastating impact on tenants and could lead to evictions as people are thrown into rent arrears.
And this week, Wythenshawe MP, Paul Goggins confronted communities secretary, Eric Pickles in parliament. He said: “Since April the arrears of those tenants in Wythenshawe in my constituency who are affected by the bedroom tax have increased by £500,000 and that more than 1,000 families have fallen behind with their rent for the very first time. Will he take this opportunity to apologise to my constituents for the hardship that policy has created?”
But Mr Pickles would not apologise and accused him of playing politics with the poor. He replied: “Why did the right hon. Gentleman never raise that question when the problem affected private tenants in his constituency? “Why was he so callous about their plight?
” We have put aside sums of money to deal with the hardship, but only a handful of local authorities have applied for it as they are more content to use the poor as a battering ram against this Government. He should be ashamed.”