My Plans to Axe the Bedroom Tax
As a first post, of probably many many more in this parliament, I’m going to outline policies and promises that would compromise my manifesto if I was seeking election.
The first promise that I would announce is an immediate end, on day 1 of my theoretical government, to the bedroom tax.
The bedroom tax was a policy implemented during the last parliament by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition – as part of their ‘making work pay’ / ‘rewarding hard working people’ rhetoric.
In reality, the bedroom tax, as opponents have pointed out before, during and after implementation, is a cruel and vindictive tax aimed at targeting the most vulnerable in our society – even a number of Liberal Democrats, pre-election, said that the bedroom tax was a failure and should be repealed.
The aim of the bedroom tax was to reduce public expenditure and formed part of the austerity and deficit reduction program undertaken by the previous coalition government.
What’s the reality? Well, it saves minute amounts of money in comparison with public expenditure taken as a whole. And for these minute savings we inflict misery on some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
The Bedroom Tax disproportionately affects the disabled and their careers – approximately 1 in 3 of the 500,000 households affected by this tax are either disabled or carers for disabled people.
60% of the households now liable for the Bedroom Tax are now in arrears, with many facing eviction from their properties.
The argument is that if you are getting any form of assistance for housing from welfare that you shouldn’t have more bedrooms than the government deems that you require. In principle, it sounds OK. But the reality is another thing.
There’s a massive housing shortage in this country. Some families or individuals have been placed in houses with ‘extra’ bedrooms because there aren’t any adequately sized houses available – despite the willingness of many tenants to move into a smaller house, if one was available.
The Independent revealed that 96% of people affected by the bedroom tax had no where to move.
Others, such as where a bedroom is occupied outside of term time by a student have also been targeted, as well as disabled people who have carers who are required to stay over sometimes.
Unless a child lives full time with a parent, the bedroom tax is also applied in this circumstance – so in the case of shared custody, a bedroom for the child will be considered ‘spare’.
Foster carers also have any bedrooms used by children that they foster deemed ‘spare’ as foster children are not counted as part of the household for benefit purposes.
A housing expert, appointed by the United Nations has said that the ‘shocking’ bedroom tax should be axed and says the policy could constitute a violation of the human right to adequate housing.
My pledge is that on the first day of my new government I would end the Bedroom Tax and extend the current Crisis Loans system to cover emergency short term loans for the lowest paid and most vulnerable people in our society at risk of eviction due to rent arrears caused by the Bedroom Tax.