Conservatives spoke up for the 1,264 families on Reading’s Housing waiting list suffering from overcrowding at last Tuesday’s Council meeting. The so-called “Bedroom Tax” is designed to ensure that the social housing stock is best used to relieve over-crowding and free up larger Council houses for families who desperately need the accommodation.
However, at Full Council Labour used their majority to vote through a motion to write to government asking for the under occupancy reform to be suspended because they said it isn’t fair on the 1,008 households in Reading’s social housing with a spare bedroom.
After the meeting Conservative Housing spokesman Cllr Isobel Ballsdon said “There are 9,636 families and individuals on Reading’s Housing waiting list, many having been on it for a number of years. The overwhelming majority of residents I’ve spoken to support making better use of the town’s limited supply of social housing to help tackle the backlog. Despite this Labour wants to stop the Government’s reform which will get more families into housing right for their needs.”
Cllr Ballsdon met with Mrs Chidsey who together with her husband decided to downsize last year from their 2 bed Council bungalow to a one bedroom maisonette. Mrs Chidsey said, “We didn’t need all that space. We moved so a disabled person with a carer or a family could benefit. Our utility bills are cheaper nowand we are happy we made the right decision. Our daughter lives next door to a man who has a 3 bedroom council house all to himself. What a waste when there are families out there squashed into tiny flats or temporary housing.”
Cllr Ballsdon continued, “At the Council meeting I proposed someexceptional cases which officers should prioritise for using the town’s share of the £155 million Government pot for Discretionary Housing Payments. These are households needing a sparebedroom because of medical or disability needs, residents registered to foster but temporarily without a foster child; residents with a grown up child living with them who is away on active duty with the Armed Forces. Labour ignored our reasoned argument and our proposal to work cross-party for the good of residents. It was very disappointing.”
Cllr Tim Harris, Conservative Group Leader said, “Labour’s motion did nothing to help a single household on the Housing waiting list. Instead all they are doing is scaring vulnerable residents. It is totally unacceptable behaviour; especially given they don’t know all the facts nor have any idea how to deal with the problem of people in over-crowded housing. It shows them caring more about political point scoring than the needs of residents.”