The Coalition Government’s Bedroom Tax has had a particularly severe impact on Birkenhead, the Wirral and the North West. The National Housing Federation has found that 26,446 households across Merseyside will be hit by the Bedroom Tax, and that the cost to Merseyside housing associations could reach £22.9m in the first 12 months to April 2014.
Frank has campaigned strongly in opposition to the Bedroom Tax as he believes it is grossly unfair, fails to tackle the real housing problems, and will end up actually costing the government more than it saves. In March 2013 he called a debate in the House of Commons to bring ministers’ attention to the strength of feeling on this.
During the debate, Frank called on landlords to “brick up the doors to spare bedrooms and, where appropriate, knock down the walls, so that the properties can safely fit the tenants.”
You can read the full text of the debate here
The Independent covered Frank’s speech on the front page of their newspaper the next day, which you can see here
Frank welcomed Labour’s pledge to abolish the Bedroom Tax in 2015, saying: “The Bedroom Tax is a vicious measure that has had a crippling effect on thousands of families across Merseyside. For many families, not having all the money to pay their rent has pushed them into greater hardship, forcing them to choose between eating and paying their bills and rent. There simply aren’t enough smaller social homes available for everyone affected by the Bedroom Tax to be able to downsize, and if those people move to the private sector the bill to the taxpayer could increase. Labour has done the right thing in pledging to scrap this measure.”
He is scrutinising the impact of the Bedroom Tax in Birkenhead and across the country, and is urging the Government to abolish it with immediate effect. You can read more about Frank's campaign against the Bedroom Tax in the Wirral Globe, Liverpool Echo,
and the Mirror
Universal Credit, the centrepiece of the Coalition Government’s welfare reform programme, brings together six existing benefits into one single, monthly means-tested payment. Means-testing only encourages dependency, and the Universal Credit is in one sense, the ultimate form of means-testing. It obviously gets extra money to hard working families who earn low wages. But in doing so it rots the soul. Recipients have to be saints not to take loss of credit payments into account when deciding whether to work longer or to train for a higher paid job. Claimants can currently lose more than 90 pence for every extra pound in earnings. Under Universal Credit people can still lose about 65 pence of every extra hard earned pound – 20 pence more than the highest rate of tax.
Frank is against the Universal Credit in principle, but he also fears that the programme is practically unachievable.
Following the publication of a damning National Audit Office (NAO) report
on the rolling out of Universal Credit, Frank said the political end of Universal Credit was in sight and that a sustainable, insurance strategy should take its place. He has written to the Comptroller and Auditor General of the NAO, Mr Amyas Morse, requesting a full evaluation of the feasibility of Universal Credit.
You can read Frank's letter to Amyas Morse here
, and the reply from the NAO can be found here
. Further correspondence between Frank and the NAO on the roll out of Universal Credit can be found here
Frank exposed the unsustainable burden placed on small businesses by Universal Credit in The Financial Times
and Liverpool Echo
You can listen to Frank discussing welfare reform in the Spectator podcast here.
Frank continues hold the government to account over its welfare reform programme and is pushing for fairer alternatives to Universal Credit.