MP to speak out against ‘bedroom tax’

STEPHEN HEPBURN ... the Jarrow MP will speak out against the 'bedroom tax'.
STEPHEN HEPBURN ... the Jarrow MP will speak out against the 'bedroom tax'.

JARROW MP Stephen Hepburn will speak out against benefits reforms – including the controversial ‘bedroom tax’ – at a public meeting next week.

There are growing fears the Government’s radical welfare reform changes will badly affect thousands of people on benefits in South Tyneside.

A public meeting about the reforms will be held at Jarrow Community Centre in Cambrian Street, at 7pm on Tuesday.

The meeting has been organised by Jarrow and South Shields Labour Parties, with South Tyneside Trades Union Council.

Joining Mr Hepburn on the platform will be Kevin McHugh, vice-president of the Public and Commercial Services Trade Union, and Robert Pinkerton, regional secretary of the National Pensioners’ Convention.

Wilf Flynn, secretary of Jarrow Constituency Labour Party, slammed the benefit overhaul as “an attack on the poorest in our community”.

He added: “The Tory-led Government is making sweeping changes to the benefits’ system from April.

“The biggest changes include a bedroom tax on council tenants, and housing benefits may be reduced if you have spare bedrooms, or your children have their own bedrooms, depending on their age and sex.”

Mr Flynn added: “We believe these reforms could affect thousands of people across South Tyneside – for the worse – and will place an even bigger burden on the council.

“We have leafleted across Jarrow town centre and would urge people to go along to the meeting on Tuesday night.”

Mr Flynn also fears that the introduction of a universal credit system later this year could see many people failing to pay their rent, sparking more major financial problems for the already cash-strapped South Tyneside Council.

“This change alone could cost millions in lost revenue,” Mr Flynn warned.