Lancaster Labour Party

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More than 6,000 homes in the Lancaster and Fleetwood parliamentary constituency are in ‘fuel poverty’, new figures reveal.
Cat Smith, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for the area, is calling for much more to be done to tackle cold, draughty homes, with high energy prices increasingly taking their toll on cash-strapped families.
Government figures show that 6,039 homes in the constituency are officially classed as being in “fuel poverty” - meaning they spend more than 10% of their total income on heating their home. [1]
Ms Smith is calling on the Coalition to reverse its cuts to insulation schemes. [2] 
She has joined more than 180 charities, campaign groups, unions and companies making up the Energy Bill Revolution coalition to call for a huge programme to upgrade the energy efficiency of our homes – starting with the poorest households. [3]
Ms Smith said: “It is shocking to think that in 21st century Britain so many people in Lancaster and Fleetwood cannot afford to heat their own homes.
“This can have serious consequences, especially for vulnerable people like the elderly and young children.
“Now is the time the Coalition should be planning ahead for next winter and trying to ensure nobody has to suffer in this way.
“Labour has pledged to freeze energy bills if it wins the general election next year, but the Coalition has the power to do this now, as well as to reverse its damaging cuts to insulation schemes.
“Fuel poverty is just one element of the cost of living crisis which has resulted in the average family being £1,600 worse off under this Government.”
UK homes are among the hardest to heat in Europe, with too little insulation and leaky windows and doors. 
Countries such as Sweden have very little fuel poverty, despite much colder weather and similar energy prices that are similar to the UK.  That is because their homes are so much more energy efficient.
Previous work by the Energy Bill Revolution has shown that improving homes like this would create more jobs, be better for the economy, and be more popular with the public than any other major building project.

ENDS

NOTES

[1] Figures from Department of Energy and Climate Change show that in England as a whole, 2.6m homes are in fuel poverty.  Full figures available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/199833/Fuel_Poverty_Report_2013_FINALv2.pdf
[2] http://www.energybillrevolution.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/FP_spendingFINAL.pdf
[3] http://www.energybillrevolution.org/whos-behind-it/

Time to end the scandal of cold homes says Labour candidate

More than 6,000 homes in the Lancaster and Fleetwood parliamentary constituency are in ‘fuel poverty’, new figures reveal. Cat Smith, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for the area, is calling for much...

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Cat Smith, Labour’s candidate for MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, has backed Labour plans for a better deal for those renting their homes privately.

In an Opposition Day debate in the House of Commons forced by Labour earlier last week, Labour called on the Government to stand up for generation rent by backing Labour’s reform plans in a vote in Parliament.

Eric Ollerenshaw, Tory MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, failed to back Labour’s reforms to the private rented sector to give the nine million people who rent greater stability and certainty by legislating for three year tenancies with a ceiling on rent increases and making renting more affordable by banning letting agent fees charged to tenants.

The next Labour government will act to ban letting agents’ fees for tenants, and will legislate to make three year tenancies with predictable rents the standard in the private rented sector to give people who rent the certainty they need.

Labour has also committed to getting 200,000 built a year by 2020 so that more families can fulfil their dream of home ownership.

Cat Smith said:

“Families who are renting in Lancaster and Fleetwood are often worried about the prospect that their rent could jump up by a big amount from one year to the next. Having rented here for many years myself, I know they want to be able to settle down, put down roots and have peace of mind.

“While the Tory-led Government refuses to act, a Labour Government will give families the security of a longer tenancy and predictable rents to stop excessive rises so that they can manage tight family finances and plan ahead.

“If you buy your home, most estate agents will not charge you fees, but people who rent are given no protection and they get charged £350 on average. That’s a lot of money for a lot of people and that’s why Labour will legislate to ban these rip-off charges by letting agents.”

LABOUR CANDIDATE CALLS FOR A FAIRER DEAL FOR RENTERS

Cat Smith, Labour’s candidate for MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, has backed Labour plans for a better deal for those renting their homes privately. In an Opposition Day debate in...

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Nearly 600 households in the Lancaster district and 400 people in Wyre have been hit by the Government’s Bedroom Tax, new figures show.

The figures, released on the first anniversary of the introduction of the charge, show that 581 households in Lancaster were affected by the tax between May and November last year, with 416 impacted in Wyre.

Yet a recent BBC survey suggested that just six per cent of those affected in the UK had been able to downsize to a smaller home.

Cat Smith, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood, said: “Labour has already pledged to scrap this cruel and unfair tax if we win the next General Election.

“The Bedroom Tax hits vulnerable people in the Lancaster district, some of whom are already really struggling to make ends meet and the Government’s own figures show that two-thirds of people affected nationally are disabled."

“The Conservative-led Government has known all along that there were not enough smaller homes for people to move to - its figures for how much the Bedroom Tax would raise were based upon people being hit by the tax and show it was always intended for use as a cash cow.

“But worse still, last month’s Budget shows the housing benefits bill is rising and will cost £1 billion more than thought over the next five years as people are forced to move to more expensive private rented homes by the Bedroom Tax and the shortage of affordable housing.”

Ms Smith added that Labour would fund its move to scrap the Bedroom Tax by reversing the Government’s recent tax cut for hedge funds and a shares for rights scheme which has opened up a tax loophole meaning lost revenue of £1 billion.

Separate constituency figures for Lancaster and Fleetwood show the number of households affected by the Bedroom Tax stood at 538 in May 2013.

By November 2013 that figure had reduced to just 460, suggesting few of those hit by the tax have been able to move house.

New figures show effect of Bedroom Tax in Lancaster & Fleetwood

Nearly 600 households in the Lancaster district and 400 people in Wyre have been hit by the Government’s Bedroom Tax, new figures show.

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The proposals, which would see spending power transferred from central government to city and county regions, will be rolled out by the Labour Party if it wins the next General Election.

Labour leader Ed Miliband is writing to the leaders of Lancaster City Council, Wyre Borough Council, Lancashire County Council, the University of Central Lancashire, Lancaster University, the University of Cumbria and the Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership to outline the ambitious plans.

They will be asked to draw up joint plans to boost growth and private sector jobs in their regions and those that bring together proposals in the first nine months of the next Labour government will receive a devolution deal.

Cat Smith, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood, said: “This idea is a win-win for people in Lancaster and Fleetwood.

“It will mean important decisions about things like jobs, the economy, housing and transport are made more locally and if elected I will fight hard to ensure North Lancashire gets a fairer share of investment.

“The long arm of central government has exercised control over decisions and investment for too long and while the Tory-led Coalition claims it is creating new private sector jobs, nearly 80 per cent of them have been in London.

“The divide between the North and South is growing under the Coalition and many people in Lancaster and Fleetwood are worse off - but decisive action like that proposed by Ed Miliband today would help to reverse this worrying trend.”

Under the plans more than £4 billion a year in central government spending would be devolved to city and county regions which cross existing council boundaries.

That is double the amount proposed by the Coalition, which scrapped Labour’s Regional Development Agencies.

The funding will help pay for new homes, transport infrastructure, as well as skills training and help for people looking for work.

A combined transport authority, similar to Transport for London, would be set up in each area to take control of some transport operations and manage fares and revenue.

Plans to devolve power to new city-regions could help to bring new investment and jobs to Lancaster and Fleetwood.

The proposals, which would see spending power transferred from central government to city and county regions, will be rolled out by the Labour Party if it wins the next General...

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Eric Ollerenshaw, Tory MP voted against a freeze on bills for 34,227 households in Lancaster and Fleetwood

Thousands of households across Lancaster and Fleetwood were denied an energy bill freeze following a vote in the House of Commons. Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, including Tory MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, joined forces to block Labour’s call to freeze energy bills until 2017, saving the average household £120.
Labour’s Candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood, Cat Smith said:
“Last week, Eric Ollerenshaw had the chance to put the people of Lancaster and Fleetwood first and vote for a freeze on energy bills, but he refused. Instead of supporting a freeze on prices that would help 34,227 households across our area struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, the Tories have ignored the issue once again.
“Hardworking people across Lancaster and Fleetwood will rightly ask why Eric Ollerenshaw MP left them out in the cold and voted against Labour’s plans to help hardworking families struggling with soaring energy bills. In voting against David Cameron’s Tories have proved again that they only stand up for a privileged few.”
Caroline Flint MP, Labour’s Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said:
"The vote in Parliament showed once again that the Government is determined to kick the problem of rip-off energy bills into the long grass. 
“As the recent price freeze announcement from SSE showed, energy companies are now bringing forward precisely those reforms first proposed by Labour, and which the Government claimed was impossible. But Tories and Lib Dems from across the country, including here in Lancaster and Fleetwood, refused to support a nationwide price freeze last night.
“A Labour Government will freeze your gas and electricity bills until 2017, and reform our broken energy market. Our plans will break up the big energy companies, put an end to their secret deals and make tariffs simpler and fairer. And until these reforms kick in, we will put a stop to unfair price rises by freezing energy bills until 2017, saving the average household £120."

Labour’s Energy bill freeze for Lancaster and Fleetwood blocked by Tories

Eric Ollerenshaw, Tory MP voted against a freeze on bills for 34,227 households in Lancaster and Fleetwood

News

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Labour's general election candidate, Cat Smith has expressed shock at figures released by NHS England showing rising numbers of patients waiting longer than four hours at Accident and Emergency. 

The figures released for July to September 2014 show a marked increase from the same time last year. Figures for the last three months for Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, show that 1,310 people have waited longer than four hours in A&E, 286 more patients than this time last year.

Cat Smith said,

"David Cameron promised he'd protect the NHS, but backed up by votes from our local Tory MP he wasted billions on an unnecessary re-organisation, inflicted deep cuts on social care and made it harder to see a GP.  Latest figures for A&E show that the Tories are taking the NHS backwards.
 
I am challenging our Tory MP for Fleetwood to back Labour’s plans to -
 

  • Guarantee a GP appointment within 48 hours, and the same day for those who need it.
  • Guarantee a maximum one-week wait for cancer tests.
  • Create a £2.5 billion a year NHS Time to Care Fund to support 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs, 5,000 more home care workers and 3,000 more midwives – funded by a mansion tax on homes worth £2 million or more, by ensuring that tax avoiders play by the rules and by a levy on tobacco companies.
  • Repeal David Cameron's NHS changes that put private profit before patients, so that NHS professionals can focus on your care, not competition law.

I am appalled that this government, supported by our local Tory MP, have consistently put private profit before patient care here in on the Fylde Coast."

Fleetwood patients waiting longer at A&E

Labour's general election candidate, Cat Smith has expressed shock at figures released by NHS England showing rising numbers of patients waiting longer than four hours at Accident and Emergency.  The...

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Labour's general election candidate, Cat Smith has expressed shock at figures released by NHS England showing rising numbers of patients waiting longer than four hours at Accident and Emergency, and an increase in patients left waiting on trolleys for more than four hours. 

The figures released for July to September 2014 show a marked increase from the same time last year. Figures for the last three months for University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, show that 1,737 people have waited longer than four hours in a major A&E, a rise of 54% or 934 more patients than this time last year. Figures also show that 237 patients at the Trust waited longer than four hours on a trolley in A&E before they were admitted into hospital, 57% or 136 more patients than this time last year.
 

Cat Smith, who is active in the local No Sell Off Morecambe Bay group campaigning against pharmacy privatisation in local hospitals said,

"David Cameron promised he'd protect the NHS, but backed up by votes from our local Tory MP he wasted billions on an unnecessary re-organisation, inflicted deep cuts on social care and made it harder to see a GP.  Latest figures for A&E show that the Tories are taking the NHS backwards.
 
I am challenging our Tory MP for Lancaster to back Labour’s plans to -
 

  • Guarantee a GP appointment within 48 hours, and the same day for those who need it.
  • Guarantee a maximum one-week wait for cancer tests.
  • Create a £2.5 billion a year NHS Time to Care Fund to support 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs, 5,000 more home care workers and 3,000 more midwives – funded by a mansion tax on homes worth £2 million or more, by ensuring that tax avoiders play by the rules and by a levy on tobacco companies.
  • Repeal David Cameron's NHS changes that put private profit before patients, so that NHS professionals can focus on your care, not competition law.

I am appalled that this government, supported by our local Tory MP, have consistently put private profit before patient care here in Lancaster."

 

 

 

57% rise in patients waiting four hours or more on A&E trolleys in Lancaster

  Labour's general election candidate, Cat Smith has expressed shock at figures released by NHS England showing rising numbers of patients waiting longer than four hours at Accident and Emergency,...

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Early diagnosis of cancer means treatment is more likely to be successful, yet more and more people in the Lancashire area are being forced to wait longer for essential tests. In August this year, 226 patients waited longer than six weeks for cancer tests compared to 94 in the same month last year.

That’s why the next Labour government will ensure that NHS patients in England will wait no longer than one week for cancer tests and results by 2020. The cancer test guarantee will be made possible by £750 million of new investment over five years, raised through a new levy on tobacco firms which make huge profits from their products which cause so much ill-health.

The Tories haven’t just destabilised our health service; they’re holding it back from meeting the challenges of the modern world as well. Only Labour can be trusted to protect and improve the NHS and the one-week cancer test guarantee is an important step towards our ambition for the health service to have the best cancer survival rates in Europe, which could save up to 10,000 lives a year.

Labour's new one-week cancer test guarantee

Early diagnosis of cancer means treatment is more likely to be successful, yet more and more people in the Lancashire area are being forced to wait longer for essential tests....

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Labour’s candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood has shown her commitment to protecting animals by pledging her support for the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s (IFAW) campaign to end wildlife poaching.

At the Labour Party Conference, Cat Smith is pictured with a speech bubble to highlight the issue and send a clear message that she wants the UK to continue to take the lead in the international community to stamp out wildlife crime.

The illegal wildlife trade generates an estimated £11.6 billion per year. It ranks fourth on the list of the most lucrative global illegal activities behind narcotics, counterfeiting and human trafficking.

Criminals are attracted to wildlife trafficking for the huge profits and low penalties. Disturbingly, the proceeds are used to fund well-armed rebel and militia groups who are willing to slaughter threatened species and kill people to obtain elephant ivory, rhinoceros horn and other wildlife parts.

IFAW’s UK Campaigns Manager, Tania McCrea-Steele, said: “The impact of poaching and the illegal trade on wildlife is very grave and we are witnessing entire populations of iconic species such as elephants, tigers and rhinos being brought to the brink of extinction. We thank Cat Smith for showing her commitment to stamping out wildlife crime.”

Cat Smith supports campaign to end wildlife crime

Labour’s candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood has shown her commitment to protecting animals by pledging her support for the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s (IFAW) campaign to end wildlife poaching....

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Labour is unveiling plans to give football fans a voice in every boardroom and buy a significant slice of the shares when the ownership of their club changes.

Clive Efford, Labour’s Shadow Sports Minister, has launched the proposals for the biggest legislative shake-up in the governance of English and Welsh football clubs since the advent of the game.

The plan, which has been drawn up in consultation with 95 football supporters’ organisations, would require supporters to come together to form a single accredited trust in return for the right to:

• appoint and remove up to a quarter and not less than two of a football club’s board of directors;

• purchase up to 10 per cent of the shares when a club changes ownership, if they so wish.

Supporters have told us that this is the only way to ensure those running clubs share information, power and responsibility with them. Labour's proposals mean fans could hold the owners of their club to account on all issues on and off the field including ticket prices, shirt sponsorship, ground naming rights, and changing the colour of the strip or the name.

Cat Smith, Labour's parliamentary candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood, said, "Football is more than a business. Football clubs are part of people’s identity and sense of belonging. Our plan is to give fans a stake in their clubs. Labour believes in sharing power and responsibility with people, and giving football fans a voice is part of our plan to change our country by devolving power to our cities, towns and communities. We believe in a society that gives power to people.”

Labour will now consult further on the detail of these proposals with supporters.

Labour: Putting Fans at the Heart of Football’s Future

Labour is unveiling plans to give football fans a voice in every boardroom and buy a significant slice of the shares when the ownership of their club changes.Clive Efford, Labour’s...

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Local parliamentary candidate Cat Smith has expressed her concern at figures exposing the extent of child poverty in the area. The figures produced by the End Child Poverty campaign show that across the Lancaster and Fleetwood Parliamentary constituency there are 2,716 children living in in-work poverty and 1,447 in out of-work poverty.

In Fleetwood all the wards have a figure of child poverty higher than the constituency average. Rossall is the area with the highest levels of poverty in the constituency with 40.56% of children in the area living in poverty after housing costs are taken into account. In Mount the figure is 37.28%, in Pharos it is 35.39% and in Park it is 33.26% and Warren 25.34%. 

Whilst in Lancaster the areas have lower rates of child poverty, the figures are still shocking. In Castle the figure of 26.73% of children in the area living in poverty after housing costs are taken into account, places the ward above the constituency average.

After housing costs are taken into account 24.81 % of children living in Lancaster and Fleetwood live in poverty.

Speaking on the subject Cat Smith said, “The last Labour Government made real progress in reducing poverty across the United Kingdom taking 1.5 million children out of absolute poverty. Sadly this progress has stalled since the current Government took office and we can now see the devastating impact that this has had on children in North Lancashire. This can come as little surprise. The IFS has shown that a key reason why poverty fell between 1997 and 2010 was increased investment in social security measures such as tax credits. These troubling figures are therefore an inevitable consequence of this Government’s austerity measures such as the bedroom tax and 1% uprating cap on a range of both in and out of work benefits.”

Cat Smith speaks out on Child Poverty

Local parliamentary candidate Cat Smith has expressed her concern at figures exposing the extent of child poverty in the area. The figures produced by the End Child Poverty campaign show...

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We face the biggest housing crisis in a generation. Less than half the number of new homes Britain needs are being built under David Cameron. House building is at the lowest level of any government in peacetime since the 1920s and home ownership has declined to its lowest level in 30 years.

I’ve spoken to many young people in Lancaster and Fleetwood who have all but given up on their dream of ever owning a home they can afford and call their own. I know that, too often, the local community feels that it doesn’t have enough say over the types of homes that are built and where they should go. Labour has a plan to change this.

As part of Labour’s plan our local community will be given the power to charge developers where planning permission has been given but the homes are not being built and, in the most serious cases, a 'use it or lose it' power to compulsorily purchase the site and sell it on to someone who will build those homes.

A Labour Government will also give local councils the power to designate new ‘Housing Growth Areas’ which will give the local community the power to make sure that the new homes needed locally get built where people want them, rather than just where developers choose. This way the local community will be able to make sure that there are affordable homes and the essential infrastructure needed, like GP surgeries, green spaces, schools, and roads as part of the development too.

And to help people get onto the property ladder, Labour will give councils the power to reserve at least half of the homes built in the Housing Growth Areas for first-time buyers from the local area, giving them priority access for two months.

For too many people in Lancaster and Fleetwood the dream of home ownership is fading fast. The Tory-led government has washed its hands of this problem and refuses to act, but Labour is determined to tackle the housing crisis and make sure a decent and affordable home is within reach for young people and families.

Only Labour Will Build The Homes Local First-Time Buyers Need

We face the biggest housing crisis in a generation. Less than half the number of new homes Britain needs are being built under David Cameron. House building is at the...

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This week the Tories confirmed what we had all long suspected: the ‘nasty party’ is well and truly back, if it ever went away.

When asked about the Minimum Wage, Lord Freud, David Cameron’s Minister for Welfare Reform, said that he believes some disabled people are “not worth the full wage”. He even said he would go away to look at this issue, suggesting that the Government would consider it.

Disability charities have condemned Lord Freud's comments and even senior Tories have called for Lord Freud to resign, yet David Cameron has failed to act.

Someone holding such abhorrent views shouldn’t be in government and certainly should not hold such an important job. If David Cameron continues to keep Lord Freud in his Government, we will have yet more proof of how he just stands for just a privileged few at the top.

In the dog days of this Government, the Conservative Party is going back to its worst instincts. The mask is slipping: the nasty party is back.

The Nasty Party is Back

  This week the Tories confirmed what we had all long suspected: the ‘nasty party’ is well and truly back, if it ever went away.When asked about the Minimum Wage,...

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Labour's Lancashire County Councillors have led the on a lobbying campaign to raise its serious concerns about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently being negotiated by the United States and the European Union.

The TTIP is a proposed free trade agreement between the United States and the European Union. Opponents have voiced concerns that it will increase corporate power and make it more difficult for governments to regulate markets in the public interest. 

Lancashire County Council has written to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills to raise serious concerns about the TTIP. The action follows a notice of motion passed at the most recent Full Council meeting.

Opponents of the deal maintain that the changes could mean the irreversible privatisation of the NHS and other public services. Changes to procurement rules mean US-based multinationals could win contracts throughout the NHS, whilst any future UK government attempting to reverse privatisation would be sued through secret tribunals.

Lancaster Labour's County Councillor Richard Newman-Thompson said: "The TTIP would allow companies to challenge decisions by national governments, or local authorities, that they think may damage their business interests. Disputes would be heard in private by unelected experts, rather than public courts, which would make it impossible to reverse decisions, such as the privatisation of the NHS, without being sued by foreign investors. 

"It is vital that the UK government thinks again about the implications of this pernicious deal and acts to protect British public services and our ability to govern in the interests of the British people."

Lancaster Labour's Cllr Richard Newman-Thompson Speaks Out on TTIP

  Labour's Lancashire County Councillors have led the on a lobbying campaign to raise its serious concerns about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently being negotiated by the...

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A move to exempt disabled people and those with nowhere else to move to from the Coalition’s Bedroom Tax has won support in Lancaster and Fleetwood.

Cat Smith, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood, welcomed the news that the Affordable Homes Bill had cleared an important hurdle in the House of Commons on Friday as the latest figures showed that 437 people in the constituency were paying the tax.

Figures for May 2014, showed the tax was costing people in Lancaster and Fleetwood an average of £771.68 each year.

The tax reduces housing benefit for people in council or housing association homes if they have spare rooms.

But many people are unable to move to avoid the tax because there are not enough smaller homes available.  The Conservative-led Coalition’s own independent report on the impact of the tax revealed that only 4.5 per cent of tenants affected had been able to move.

The bill, which passed its second reading on a 306-231 vote after support from Labour and the Liberal Democrats, exempts people who have not had a “reasonable offer of alternative accommodation” from the tax.

It also exempts both those for whom sharing rooms is not possible and those whose homes have been adapted because someone has a disability

Two-thirds of households hit by the Bedroom Tax so far have included someone who is disabled, and 60,000 carers are also been affected.

Labour has pledged to scrap the tax if it wins the 2015 General Election, but backed the new private members bill in the hope of minimising the impact on struggling families in the meantime.

Ms Smith said: “This cruel tax is hitting vulnerable people hard at a time when many are already struggling to make ends meet and some are having to resort to food banks.

“The Conservative-led Coalition is hammering some of our poorest families while giving tax cuts to millionaires.

“Some of these people may have lived in their home for years, but even if they were happy to move they cannot because of the shortage of smaller homes - and the Coalition Government has cut the budget for affordable homes by 60 per cent.

“If this bill succeeds it will exempt some struggling families from the Bedroom Tax - but only a Labour Government will abolish this unfair tax.”

The bill – which will now be considered further at ‘committee stage’ - was proposed by Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George.

But Ms Smith said the Lib Dems had previously supported the Conservatives in introducing the tax and resisting attempts by Labour to minimise the impact of the levy.

Support in Lancaster and Fleetwood for Bedroom Tax move

A move to exempt disabled people and those with nowhere else to move to from the Coalition’s Bedroom Tax has won support in Lancaster and Fleetwood. Cat Smith, Labour’s parliamentary...

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