The Tories talk tough about reducing the benefits bill but the truth is they’ve failed to get to grips with the problem. In fact, their cost-of-living crisis has now left hundreds of working people in Wyre Forest relying on housing benefit to help pay their bills.
Since David Cameron became Prime Minister, the number of working people claiming housing benefit has increased by 60 per cent nationally, costing ordinary British taxpayers an extra £6 billion. In Wyre Forest alone, the number of working people now claiming housing benefit has increased by a staggering 47% per cent.
People in Wyre Forest will be shocked to hear that the Tories’ cost-of-living crisis has gotten so bad that hundreds of hard-working local people are now reliant on housing benefit just to pay the bills and keep a roof over their heads.
Working people are now on average £1600 a year worse off as wages have fallen while prices have soared. Many people in work can’t get the hours they need while low-paid and insecure work is forcing more people to rely on housing benefit.
We also face a massive housing shortage in this country yet this government has presided over the lowest level of home building since the 1920s. David Cameron's failure to tackle this shortage means the cost of housing is rising beyond the reach of ordinary working people.
It can’t be right that ordinary people who do the right thing and go to work have to rely on housing benefit. The Tory-led government is either unwilling or unable to do anything about this and David Cameron seems content to let the British taxpayer pick up the bill.
People in Wyre Forest want real action to tackle both the cost-of-living crisis and the increasingly large housing benefit bill. That’s why I’m backing Labour’s plans.
We’ll take immediate action to deal with the cost-of-living crisis by freezing gas and electricity bills until 2017. And we’ll make work pay by introducing a lower 10p starting rate of tax, raising the national minimum wage and ending the abuse of zero-hours contracts.
But you can't deal with the cost-of-living crisis without building more homes. That's why Labour has committed to getting at least 200,000 homes built a year by 2020. We’ll also reform the private rented sector by banning rip-off letting agent fees for tenants and introducing long-term stable tenancies with predictable rents.
The increased number of working people claiming housing benefit shows you can’t trust the Tories to solve the cost-of-living crisis. Only Labour has the policies and the determination to stand up and make a real difference for hardworking people in Wyre Forest.
Dr Matt Lamb, Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Wyre Forest.