Dearne MPs are backing Labour’s pledge to repeal the bedroom tax if elected - a move which would make thousands of the valley’s households better off.
The bedroom tax affects around 8,000 families in Rotherham and Barnsley, who have each paid an average £17 a week extra since April.
Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey said: “People have contacted me because they’ve found they have to pay the bedroom tax when they are disabled and need another bedroom for equipment, a carer or respite for a spouse.
“I’ve also heard from parents with shared custody and children in the armed forces.
“The bedroom tax is unfair, has not been thought through and could end up costing more than it saves.
“It is hitting disabled and vulnerable people with an average bill of £720 a year through no fault of their own.”
He continued: “The next Labour government will need to make tough choices on spending and we won’t borrow more to pay for social security. But we can and will do things differently.”
From April, housing benefit and Universal Credit claimants deemed to have one ‘spare’ bedroom in their council or housing association home have had their housing benefit cut by 14 per cent, and 25 per cent if there are two or more rooms.
Nationally, 400,000 disabled people are affected. Many have no choice about the payment because there is nowhere smaller to move into.
The cost of repealing the bedroom tax would be met through reversing a tax cut for hedge funds, scrapping the government’s shares for rights scheme and tackling disguised employment in the construction industry, says Labour, who also say councils would receive help to deal with under-occupation.
The National Housing Federation estimated in March that 1,974 households in the Wentworth and Dearne constituency would have to pay bedroom tax. But according to RMBC it affects 4,384 households in Rotherham, including 3,600 council tenants. Berneslai Homes say 3,500 of their Barnsley tenants are affected.
Michael Dugher, MP for Barnsley East said: “Many of us in Barnsley have been campaigning against the bedroom tax, so this is great news. With 43 per cent of people in Barnsley affected by this unfair tax pushed into arrears, it is clear that repealing it is absolutely the right thing to do.