08:00 Tuesday 05 March 2013

Tories blast Labour over benefit reforms

Written byADRIAN JENKINS

28/02/13 Pic of RTC aftermath - Beaufort Rd, Brizlincote ValleyCllr Bernard Peters and damage to barrier on Beaufort Road, Brizlincote Valley.. 28/02/13 Pic of RTC aftermath - Beaufort Rd, Brizlincote ValleyCllr Bernard Peters and damage to barrier on Beaufort Road, Brizlincote Valley..

BURTON’S Tory MP has hit back at a Labour attack on his party’s benefit reforms by claiming each family in the town pays £900 towards housing benefit.

Andrew Griffiths said the changes were essential as the benefit’s bill had doubled in 10 years and was forecast to hit £25 billion by 2014-15.

“We can’t just expect hard-working families in Burton to go on footing the bill while we sit back and do nothing,” he said.

The MP spoke after Labour claimed the coalition’s reforms would ‘devastate’ the poorest families in Burton.

Mr Griffiths said the Government was acting to ensure tenants contributed towards their rent if they lived in housing which was bigger than they needed – bringing social housing into line with the private sector.

Councils had been given £155 million for discretionary housing payments for disabled people and £5 million for foster carers, he said.

Conor Wileman, who is contesting the Tower division for the Tories in the forthcoming Staffordshire County Council elections, said more money was spent on housing benefit than the police or the Army and navy combined.

“One third of social housing tenants of working age are living in accommodation too big for their needs while 250,000 families live in overcrowded accommodation,” he said.

“Taxpayers, including social housing tenants, are effectively having to pay for around a million unused bedrooms.

“Asking those with extra space to choose either a reduction in housing benefit or to move to smaller properties is not only necessary, but fair.”

Bernard Peters (pictured), a Conservative cabinet member of East Staffordshire Borough Council, said the authority was implementing coalition policies with ‘care and compassion’.

Rounding on Labour, particularly Winshill ward member Dennis Fletcher, he said: “He is just scaremongering again and playing politics with people’s lives.”

Councllor Peters said Labour had nothing constructive to say.

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