This is a letter from SherryWaldon in response to Swindon South MP Robert Buckland’s article in the Swindon Advertiser

Dear Robert Buckland

I have read the column which you wrote in the Advertiser last week on the Bedroom Tax and also your comment in today’s Adver, and, once again, I marvel at how ideology can blot out common humanity and rational thinking..

The housing shortage in this country is mainly caused by successive governments failing to provide sufficient houses for its increasing population; and especially for its lower paid citizens – fuelled by Mrs Thatcher’s Right to Buy and the cessation of Council House building. So private landlords could have a wonderful time pushing up their rents and the ‘market value’ of houses. That’s what the housing market is all about.

What seems to have been lost sight of – by you and your Government – is that houses are not just units of utility: they are homes Most people move through their lives in various stages – single, then a couple, then a family with children, then a couple again and lastly as single. Since social housing has always been a scarce resource, new council tenants are allocated, if possible, the type of council house or flat that suits their ‘need’ at the time they move in. At that time, it is a housing unit. when they move in it becomes a home, and their ‘need’ encompasses a myriad of social elements. If their family increases and a larger property becomes available they move into a larger council home.

What is new with your lot, is that it is now decreed that the family home cannot be retained and such couples or single tenants must move again – but only those on Housing Benefit. If they are on HB they are already having a struggle to make ends meet and now you wish to deprive them of their home and the security it provides in a settled environment, a community and friends they know, and, most important, in many cases the ability to have children and grandchildren to visit. Why is their ‘need’ any less than social housing tenants who are not on benefit, or on owners or private tenants who have spare rooms?

You say “People who pay for their homes may like another bedroom but can’t afford it.” That is a choice they can make, depending on what they mean by “afford”. People on HB have far less choice as to how to manage scarce resources, and they will have even less after today.

In today’s Adver there is also an article on “Fears as benefits changes kick in” which correctly charts some of the consequences of this inhuman policy. It is going to destroy settled communities, many people’s lives, and hugely increase the health and welfare bills for successive governments.

Finally, I am a pensioner, now on HB, having lived here in my family home for 48 years and paying full rent except for the last 3 years. Is my ‘need’ any greater than the woman down the road who has brought up her family in what has been her family home for 30 years? She is a young grandmother (there are a lot of them around these days!). She has a 3-bedroom house and will have to pay about £25 extra rent a week on Jobseekers Allowance. And she is one of many seeking a job when there aren’t enough jobs available, and not enough one-bedroom flats available So why did your government exempt pensioners? Not for humanitarian reasons. Purely a political decision, I would think.

No doubt you are enjoying your Easter break. Many people today will not.

Sherry Waldon

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