On April 1 the bedroom tax will hit families across Britain, slashing the housing benefit of anyone deemed to have more space than they need.
When people in my constituency told me of the effect the bedroom tax will have on them I was shocked. A woman on employment and support allowance (ESA), who had to stop working owing to a chronic health condition, told me that when the tax hits she will be left with just £18 to live on. The figure isn't unusual.
I decided to see if I could survive on just £18 for a week. The figure's not arbitrary. Of £71.70 ESA the woman in question had to pay £10 a week for electricity, £20 for heating, £6 for water rates and £4 for bus fares.
The bedroom tax will take another £10. That leaves £23, but we calculated that around £5 needs to be set aside. There are all the non-food items you need to buy - soap, washing powder, washing-up liquid, toothpaste, loo roll - from time to time, and the woman tried to save £50 a year in case she needed clothes or shoes, or the iron breaks.
This leaves £18.
I took up the challenge for a week. It was extremely unpleasant.
I found myself waking up in the middle of the night absolutely ravenous, having to make cups of tea and eat biscuits.
I had a headache for five days that week and I was completely lethargic and exhausted by 4pm. I found it impossible to imagine looking for a job on so little food, let alone taking part in a workfare programme.
On £18 I had porridge for breakfast every morning, as I usually do, but whereas I usually make porridge with milk instead I had to use water.
I had to eat the same food over and over and over again. Single people are hit particularly hard, because cheap food comes in big packs. I made a stew at the beginning of the week, and I ate the same food four nights a week. Pasta featured twice. I had baked potatoes. I had eggs on six occasions.
It was completely impossible to have fish as well as meat - that was out of the question. It was also impossible to have five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
Tory Health Minister Anna Soubry recently criticised people on low incomes for being obese. But how can you expect someone to control their weight when they can't afford five fruit and veg per day and have to resort to filling up on biscuits?
And on the Sunday I ran out of food.
There was literally nothing left to eat that night. If ministers are happy with the notion that 660,000 of our fellow citizens are literally not going to have enough to eat by the end of the week they have no conception of the suffering about to be imposed on members of constituencies up and down the country.
Ministers have been very free and easy in talking about alternatives, such as the fact that people can move.
In my constituency more than 1,000 people will be affected by the bedroom tax, but there are fewer than 100 smaller properties to which they could move.
It is not possible for all these people to increase the number of hours they work, as seven people are chasing every job. People are in part-time work because they cannot get full-time work.
Of course some individuals or couples have properties that are larger than they need, but so-called under-occupancy is in one part of the country and overcrowding is in another.
It simply is not credible to suggest that all the large, over-occupying families in London will move up to Durham, particularly given that the unemployment rate there is more than 9 per cent. What would they be moving to?
I made a video diary of my week, so I got a lot of feedback from people affected by this policy.
"Yes, this is the reality of our lives," I heard. People are not able to get by properly now but are going to be £10 a week worse off from April.
It wasn't the first time I've done an experiment like this. In 2006 when Labour were in power I lived on what young people received at the lowest rate of income support. It was difficult, but I didn't starve.
In 2006 £21 a week was left for food for those people. That would be equivalent to £28 now. The Tories will have shaved more than a third from the money the poorest people in the country rely on for food.
Government ministers also constantly refer to how discretionary housing benefits can solve the problems created by the bedroom tax.
In Durham £5 million of income will be taken out of people's pockets and out of the local economy.
The size of the discretionary fund is half a million pounds, so once again there is a huge gap between actual need and the resources being given to people to deal with it.
The bedroom tax is a fundamental attack on the poorest people in this country. People are going to lose between £500 and £1,000 over the course of next year, through no fault of their own.
But the really disgusting thing is that on the same day that the bedroom tax is being introduced millionaires are being given a tax cut that will be worth £1,000 - not over the year as a whole, but every single week.
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