MP’s New Bill Clears Second Common’s Reading

Scilly's MP, Andrew George

Scilly’s MP, Andrew George

Our islands’ MP has spoken on national radio about how the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ could result in poorer residents having to leave Scilly to find affordable accommodation on the mainland.

Andrew George gave the example on BBC Radio 4’s Today news programme on Friday, during an interview on the surprise progress of his Affordable Homes Bill in the House of Commons.

The Private Members Bill is seeking to introduce a number of new measures, including making people who can’t find a smaller home and the disabled exempt from the ‘bedroom tax’ rules.

These currently result in reduced housing benefit for people living in accommodation with more bedrooms than they require.

The Bill was backed by 306 votes to 231 after the Liberal Democrats and Labour joined forces.

Andrew told Radio Scilly that it’s very unusual for a Private Members Bill that isn’t supported by the government to get through and he was “overwhelmed” by the majority.

He said he wanted to give a good example of the effects of the rules on poorer people in his radio interview which is why he described what could happen in Scilly if people couldn’t afford their home because their benefit was cut.

In Cornwall, he says, that could mean moving 20 miles to another town. But in Scilly, that would mean leaving altogether if someone could find a smaller property.

Andrew believes the government’s policy, which was originally supported by the Lib Dems, is not working because the largest group of single people living in unsuitable accommodation is the over 65’s, who are exempt from the rules.

He says more suitable properties need to be made available to meet their needs.

Andrew’s Bill will now go to the committee stage, where it will be scrutinised by a smaller group of MP’s.

He’s hoping it will go back to the Commons before Christmas.