News | McDonnell: Opportunity to defend the vulnerable from Bedroom Tax must be taken

McDonnell: Opportunity to defend the vulnerable from Bedroom Tax must be taken

SDLP leader and South Belfast MP Dr Alasdair McDonnell has said that all opportunities to protect the vulnerable against the worst elements of coalition government cuts must be taken.

Dr McDonnell was speaking ahead of the Affordable Homes Bill debate in the House of Commons. SDLP MPs will vote in favour of this bill which will severely restrict the scope of the bedroom tax.

He said:

“Many of us have seen first-hand the devastating effects that the coalition government’s austerity programme is having on families. There has been a huge surge in the use of food banks and the return of illnesses such as scurvy because families can’t afford high nutrition diets must cause serious concern for us all. That is the cold reality of the austerity agenda and it must be challenged at every possible opportunity.

“It is not good enough that the government accepts the use of food banks as a new norm. When hard working families are unable to provide their children with the very basics then it’s a clear signal that we need a seismic shift in policy values.

“One of the worst excesses of the Tory cuts programme is the bedroom tax. The SDLP has been vocal in our opposition to this callous and misguided attack on working class families. That is why we continue to fiercely oppose its introduction in Northern Ireland. Because the poor and vulnerable have as much entitlement to a stable, secure family home as the well off.

“This Bill will limit the operation of the Bedroom Tax against those who have lived in their homes for more than three years and whose homes have been adapted for the disabled. It would be our preference that this despicable levy is abolished in its entirety but that is not currently possible and so we must take every opportunity to limit the pain it causes. SDLP MPs will vote in favour of these measures today and look forward to further amendments to the Bill which will allow for further exemptions to protect the vulnerable.”

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