The morphing of the once proud Falkirk Labour Party into a Tory Party Mark 2 was complete with their decision not to support an SNP motion ruling out eviction from council housing for anyone who has fallen into arrears with their rent due to Benefit Cuts and the introduction of the Tory Bedroom Tax
The SNP members had sought to offer comfort to those who face a cut in their Housing Benefit of around £10 per week on top of other benefit cuts.
The SNP sought to offer assistance to those suffering hardship due to Tory cuts but stopping short of eviction if the tenant can demonstrate their arrears were due to the Tory Reforms.
However, in a speech that could have been delivered by any Tory Backbencher, Labour Housing Convenor, Gerry Goldie linked those who fall into arrears with those who “contribute nothing and sought to demonise the victims Tory policies.
This was despite hearing stories of severe hardship facing many hundreds of local families and individual claimants. Around 60% of council tenants claim Housing Benefits with 44% of claimants being hit by the Tory Bedroom Tax with penalties that will cost claimants around £20 a fortnight.
An astonished SNP Housing spokesperson, David Alexander, said,
“The depth Labour has sunk to hit a new low with their lack of compassion for victims of Tory policies such as the Bedroom Tax.
Their alliance with the Tories has gone much deeper than a simple case of a minor coming together and what we have is a merger of ethos, direction and policies.”
Earlier in the debate Labour had delivered an inflation busting increase in council housing rents after the election gimmick of the rent freeze proposed last year.
Moving an inflation only increase and no evictions for low income tenants who fall into arrears through benefit reforms, Cllr Alexander said,
“We are asking the Administration to send a message to those who find themselves through no fault of their own that their homes are not under threat.
People are becoming frantic with worry causing stress and depression with the obvious knock on impacts for the NHS and other agencies such as Social Services.
If there is any trace of compassion left in Labour they will support the SNP motion.”
On a roll call vote 14 Labour, 2 Tory and Billy Buchanan defeated the 12 SNP and 2 Independents by 17 votes to 14 leaving vulnerable people even more vulnerable.