Presenting York Housing Benefits petition in the House of Commons
In the House of Commons this evening, I presented a petition organised by York Welfare Campaign group in response to the Government’s changes to the Housing Benefit system which have left many private tenants in York worse off and struggling to pay their rents. The petition, which has almost 1000 signatures on it, was launched after a report published by Shelter last October confirmed that York is the most unaffordable city in the Yorkshire and Humber region for private rents. The following comments are among those made on the petition:
“Rental property prices are exorbitant in York and price people out of being able to live in York. The social impact on a family and community should be of paramount importance, people should not be forced to move away from their homes and families.”
“It is ridiculous to add areas 20 miles away to gain an average rent as it is hardly possible to live in those places and hold down a job in York. Public transport is poor and in some places non-existent.”
“There is no sense in this policy which will drive people away from their homes, families and communities, mean they have to travel further to work and make it more difficult for them to stay in work (so needing more benefits and paying less tax). Neither is fair nor a useful contribution to economic recovery.”
When I met Lord Freud, the Minister for Welfare Reform, in March he agreed that we did not yet know how the changes to the housing benefit rules would impact on York residents and he suggested we meet again later this year.
York Welfare Campaigners have given me a petition which says that many York residents are struggling to pay their rents in these difficult economic times. The Minister wants people to move out of the city to cheaper areas but the comments on the petition show that people do not think this is practical or fair.
They have organised this petition which calls upon the Government to change the boundary used to calculate housing benefits in York. I agree with their views. It is wrong of the Minister to expect people to move away from their jobs, friends and families when they have lived in York all their lives. It is not feasible for everyone to commute to work as many people work anti-social hours or split shifts. The Minister has not thought this through.
I congratulate York Welfare Campaign group for organising the petition and I hope it will make the Minister sit up and listen. I have been arguing that York needs to be treated as a special case for the calculation of Housing Benefits and around 1000 people in York have signed a petition in agreement.”
The Hansard report of me presenting the petition to the House of Commons can be read here.