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How work is not paying in Stockton South

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New figures reveal a huge increase in the numbers of people with jobs having to access Housing Benefit to pay their rent.

The Tories talk tough about reducing the benefits bill but the truth is they’ve failed to get to grips with the problem. In fact, their cost-of-living crisis has now left hundreds of working people in Stockton South relying on housing benefit to help pay their bills.

Since David Cameron became Prime Minister, the number of working people claiming housing benefit has increased by 60 per cent nationally, costing ordinary British taxpayers an extra £6 billion. In the borough of Stockton alone, the number of working people now claiming housing benefit has increased from 1783 to 2862, that’s a staggering 61 per cent, even more than the national average.

People in Stockton will be shocked to hear that the Tories’ cost-of-living crisis has hit so hard that thousands of working local people are now reliant on housing benefit just to pay the bills and keep a roof over their heads.

Working people are now on average £1600 a year worse off as wages have fallen while prices have soared. Many people in work can’t get the hours they need while low-paid and insecure work is forcing more people to rely on housing benefit.  I regularly meet people desperate for full-time work who are scrabbling round to secure a few hours here and there.

It can’t be right that ordinary people who do the right thing and go to work have to rely on housing benefit. The Tory-led government is either unwilling or unable to do anything about this and David Cameron seems content to let the British taxpayer pick up the bill.

People in Stockton South want real action to tackle both the cost-of-living crisis and the increasingly large housing benefit bill. That’s why I’m backing Labour’s plans.

We’ll take immediate action to deal with the cost-of-living crisis by freezing gas and electricity bills until 2017. And we’ll make work pay by introducing a lower 10p starting rate of tax, raising the national minimum wage and ending the abuse of zero-hours contracts.

But you can't deal with the cost-of-living crisis without building more homes. That's why Labour has committed to getting at least 200,000 homes built a year by 2020. Those homes need to include large numbers of social housing and also genuinely affordable homes for first-time buyers. I will be campaigning for them to be built primarily on brown field sites where something was built before. We’ll also reform the private rented sector by banning rip-off letting agent fees for tenants and introducing long-term stable tenancies with predictable rents.

The increased number of working people claiming housing benefit shows you can’t trust the Tories to solve the cost-of-living crisis. Only Labour has the policies and the determination to stand up and make a real difference for hardworking people in Stockton.

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