Finance Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:11 pm on 6th July 2010.

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Photo of Helen Jones Helen Jones Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Minister (Justice) 6:11 pm, 6th July 2010

The hon. Gentleman ought to be wary of making jokes about mental health. I entered this House from a constituency where children growing up in 1997 had never known what it was to see someone in their household go to work. A Labour Government changed that and invested in decent homes, but Liberal and Tory councils constantly sold the pass on affordable homes by allowing developers to buy themselves out of their obligations, so we will take no lectures from him on employment or housing.

The National Housing Federation states that the Government's planned housing benefit cuts alone will put 200,000 more people at risk of homelessness and concentrate social and economic problems in the more deprived areas. It is the ultimate Tory nimbyism to want to move people out of city centres. They used to say, "Get on your bike and look for work." They now say, "Get on your bike and get out of my sight, because we don't want to know anymore."

Someone in London with rent of £350 a week would lose £35 in housing benefit if they were unemployed for 12 months. I ask Government Members what is the jobseeker's allowance for a single person? Anyone? No, I thought not. It is £65.45 a week. If those people meet the shortfall in their rent, they will be left with £30.45 to live on, to buy food and clothes and to pay for utilities and the increased VAT rate that this Government will impose on them. Not only is that not the mark of a civilised society, but it leaves those people with less money to live on in a week than many Government Members would spend on a meal-a lot less in some cases.

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