I don’t need to tell people living in Southwark that we have a housing crisis.
The council continues to build more than other London boroughs, but with less and less help from central government. Rising rents have contributed to many local people needing tax credits to top up incomes that don’t cover the higher rents and other living costs central London demands.
With house building at its lowest level nationally in almost a century, the Tory Government’s proposal to now cut tax credits has shocked many people. Letters will soon go to 6,200 people in Bermondsey and Old Southwark telling them that the Tories are breaking promises from May’s election – including from David Cameron – to not cut this vital income top-up for working people.
Many of the people directly affected will lose £1,300 a year according to the Government’s own statistics. Figures I secured from the House of Commons Library show that over 4,000 of the people affected in Bermondsey and Old Southwark have children. Working families losing out as a direct result of this Government’s actions. We know child poverty is rising after five years of Tory and Lib Dem mistakes hitting local families; sadly this policy will make matters worse.
The Government also plans to force housing associations to sell off some of their homes that we desperately need – and that are genuinely affordable. If that wasn’t damaging enough, Ministers have also suggested they will impose rent controls on housing associations. I met with three housing associations who have homes across Southwark. The combined effect of Government plans on Peabody, Riverside and One Housing could cost them £175 million over this parliament. That mind-boggling sum might prevent them delivering more affordable homes.
I am pressing for changes in my role on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill Committee. The Employment Minister already accepted that my submissions were accurate on how Government plans would hit disabled people and carers. She’s promised to provide further information on how the Department for Work and Pensions will mitigate the effect. I won’t hold my breath for concrete changes but it would be nice to secure a small victory within my first six months in parliament!
Last week the News told you I’ve taken on a junior role in the Labour team: Parliamentary Private Secretary to Chris Bryant MP. He’s Shadow Leader of the House. This ‘bag-carrying’ role will not distract me from my core work: being here for people in Bermondsey and Old Southwark. Don’t forget you can reach me via Neil.Coyle.MP@parliament.uk or on 020 7219 8733 with any queries.