Communist Party of Australia

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Issue #1612      September 25, 2013

Labour brings down axe on bedroom tax

BRITAIN: Labour has revealed that it will repeal the government’s hated bedroom tax to the relief of unions and campaigners who thought the party had entirely given up on workers. Labour leader Ed Miliband said that he and shadow chancellor Ed Balls have already found the cash to pay for the repeal of the levy on spare rooms – by cutting tax loopholes for the rich.

Mr Miliband said: “The bedroom tax – not what the Tories call the spare room subsidy – the bedroom tax [is] a symbol of an out of touch, uncaring Tory government that stands up for the privileged few but never for you.

“So we will scrap that tax. And what’s more I can tell you how.

“We’ll scrap the bedroom tax by abolishing the shady schemes of tax loopholes for the privileged few which the Tories keep inventing – tax cuts for hedge funds, the billion-pound black hole created with a scheme for workers to sell their rights for shares, and scams which cheat the taxpayer in construction.”

Mr Miliband has previously described the bedroom tax as “the single worst policy” introduced by the coalition. Two-thirds of the 660,000 people affected by the tax are disabled and the vast majority do not have the option of moving to smaller accommodation.

UK Uncut spokesman Alex Smith welcomed the decision to repeal the “horrifically unfair” tax that even the UN says amounts to a breach of human rights.

But he added that Labour “could do a lot more,” pointing out that this has come after a summer of Labour backing Tory austerity policies. “It’s about time Ed Miliband grew a backbone and started to show some real opposition to Tory policies,” said Coalition of Resistance chairwoman Romayne Phoenix.

“Campaigners have been saying for months that the bedroom tax is unworkable, immoral and vicious.

“But there are plenty of Tory policies that Labour still need to get tough on.”

The announcement comes just days after anti-cuts campaign group False Economy released shocking figures revealing that as many as one in three are in rent arrears across Britain because of the bedroom tax.

Trade Union Congress general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Scrapping it will ease the fears of thousands of low-income families and disabled people worried about being forced out of their homes they’ve lived in for decades.”

And Unison general secretary Dave Prentis added that Mr Miliband is “right to show a clear line between the Tories’ attacks on the poorest and most vulnerable in society.”

But Unite policy director Steve Turner reminded voters that until 2015 and a Labour victory this “monstrous policy remains with people daily being hounded out of their homes and into debt.”

Morning Star

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