Friday, 30 August 2013

Time to axe the "bedroom tax"

My article in last week’s Cornish Guardian covered the Coalition’s “bedroom tax.” It was as follows:

It will soon be 150 days since the Coalition implemented its “bedroom tax” and any logical justification for the controversial move is fast unravelling.

Put simply, working-age tenants in council / housing association properties – who have a spare bedroom and claim housing benefit – will have had their benefit reduced by 14 per cent. Tenants with two spare bedrooms have had their housing benefit cut by 25 per cent.

The Conservative-led Government continues to claim that their “under-occupancy penalty” will “encourage” families living in larger properties to move elsewhere, allowing better use to be made of social housing and to reduce the housing benefit bill.

But the reality is that the “bedroom tax” is a nonsensical shambles and it is penalising some of the UK’s poorest families.

It is well documented that there has been a massive increase in tenants going into rent arrears since April, specifically because of the changes, and the Independent newspaper has shown that, for 96% of affected tenants, smaller properties in the local social housing stock are not available.

And ridiculously, those families forced out of social housing and into smaller properties in the private sector will undoubtedly end up paying higher rents which will actually increase the amount of housing benefit being paid!

A large number of horror stories are also starting to emerge.

These include reports that one 53 year-old grandmother, with significant health problems, committed suicide because of the stress caused by the “bedroom tax.” And that another man who relies on a kidney dialysis machine – which is stored in a second bedroom in his small flat – has been told he will lose £60 a month in benefits.

I am reassured that opposition to the “bedroom tax” is growing and even some Coalition MPs are belatedly coming to the conclusion that it is unjust.

One Cornish MP is right to have condemned the policy as “absurd.” And I find myself wholeheartedly in agreement with the Scottish socialist who has colourfully stated that we cannot trust the “millionaire toffs” in the government to devise social housing policy.

He is correct to point out that the “cruel and economically illiterate bedroom tax” shows that the Government is out of touch and does not understand what is happening in the lives of many of the less-well-off.

1 comment:

MawKernewek said...

Tax "island worktops" and ensuite bathrooms instead.