Welsh Housing Association, Valleys to Coast (V2C), caused outrage today after sending out a letter to tenants affected by the controversial ‘bedroom tax’ thanking them their “efforts to pay” the shortfall in their rent and offering them a Cadbury’s Crème Egg as a form of compensation.
The news came to light after one of their tenants, Joe Halewood, posted a picture of the letter he had received from the Housing Association on twitter.
The letter, written by V2C Head of Neighbourhoods Nigel Draper, reads:
“The Bedroom Tax was introduced just over a year ago and Valleys to Coast Housing would like to thank you for your efforts to pay this shortfall.
“V2C understands that this is a challenging time and wants to recognise your payment efforts.
“We know that money is much tighter now with household bills such as food and fuel increasing year on year. Please remember we have a special Money Matters team who offer an open walk in session every Tuesday at Nolton Court plus they can assist in any money related problems at any time throughout the week.
“As well as thanking you by letter we would like to offer you as a small thank you by offering a Free Crème Egg should you call into the office during the month of April.”
Twitter users responded in anger with one person tweeting, “that is possibly THE most patronising thing I have ever heard. Is it one very expensive egg per bedroom or doesn’t it say?” Another wrote: “Actually it never says on that letter you need to pay the Bedroom Tax to get the egg, it just says visit the office. Idiots”.
Nigel Draper has defended the letter. He told the Independent newspaper:
“The letter of thanks and small gesture of the Crème Egg is an important recognition to those tenants who have struggled to find additional rent due to the bedroom tax.
“Over the last 12 months we have worked closely with our tenants to combat the worst effects of the bedroom tax.
“We always need to engage and keep the debate alive and the invitation to attend one of our regular walk-in sessions in Bridgend and pick up a free Crème Egg over Easter was a way of reminding tenants that even during the school holidays staff are available to help with financial advice.”
Labour has pledged to scrap the ‘bedroom tax’, or ‘under-occupation penalty’ (also known as the ‘spare room subsidy’) if they win a majority in the 2015 General Election.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) has increased the amount of financial support – otherwise known as Discretionary Housing Payments, or DHP’s – for those affected by the government’s housing policy, effectively neutralising the ‘bedroom tax’ North of the border. SNP say they would also abolish the policy if Scotland vote YES to independence later this year.