THE Conservative Party chairman has been told by a city centre charity that his party’s bedroom tax policy has put 600 Portsmouth families in arrears.
Grant Shapps MP, who is also a government minister without portfolio, visited The Roberts Centre in Crasswell Street on Thursday along with the party’s prospective candidate for the Portsmouth South constituency, Flick Drummond.
The Roberts Centre was set up more than 25 years ago to help homeless families. Its services for families and young people have beeing growing since then.
Carole Damper, chief executive of the centre, said she had told Mr Shapps about some of the ways the government’s changes to benefits have affected people in Portsmouth.
Carole said: ‘I never invite politicians but I never refuse them if they want to visit.
‘It’s never a bad thing to raise some local concerns, like to show how unfair it was to make the bedroom tax retrospective.
‘Of the 1,400 Portsmouth City Council tenants affected by under occupation, 600 are in arrears. Four hundred of them have never been in arrears before. That is just city council tenants.’
Carole said she raised other points that she has seen affect her clients including looked-after children and young people coming out of care.
‘I think he listened,’ she said. Outside the centre, Mr Shapps said: ‘I have come here to meet up with our excellent candidate, I hope next MP for Portsmouth, to come to the Roberts Centre. It’s very inspirational leadership in here by a woman called Carole who provided some excellent services to local families right here in Charles Dickens ward.’
Flick Drummond, who will be standing as the party’s candidate in the 2015 general election, said: ‘This is something I am particularly interested in. It is across the whole city we really need to make sure that we have the skill sets that we need to create jobs.’