Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Bedroom Tax - a vicious policy aimed at the poor and disabled.

A BBC Radio Lancashire - live broadcast - Monday 25th from Hyndburn Resource Centre, Cannon Street. Those affected encouraged to come along.


My office has been receiving an increasing amount of correspondence about the Government’s under-occupancy penalty, more commonly known as the 'bedroom tax'.

A week on Monday BBC Radio Lancashire will be at the Hyndburn Voluntary Centre speaking to those worried about the 'Bedroom Tax' (see attached leaflet). A member of my staff will also be there alongside money advice and benefits help.

There are a lot of people out there who are rightly worried about how they will be affected by it, and as result 1,400 household in East Lancashire have already sought urgent advice. A total of 875 households in Hyndburn will be affected.

Unfortunately these 1,400 are just the tip of the iceberg. According to research by the National Housing Federation based on official DWP figures, there will be around 14,631 households across Lancashire who are hit by this bedroom tax. The tax will take £7.5m per annum out of Lancashire.

I do not think the Government understands the unncessaruy pain that this will cause.New items are frequently carrying the heartbreaking stories of disabled, armed service personal, carers, parents forced out of their own home because they happen to have a spare bedroom. Two thirds of those affected are disabled.
  1. Athlete Kriss Akabusi: Foster parents need spare rooms video http://vimeo.com/59156495
  2.  ITV News reporter Sejal Karia met Lisa and Brett affected by the new 'bedroom tax'.
    http://www.itv.com/news/2013-02-01/tenants-hit-by-bedroom-tax-tell-of-financial-misery/
  3. Lisa and Brett thank the public for support
    http://www.itv.com/news/2013-02-05/bedroom-tax-couple-thank-public-for-support/
  4. ITV Granada: LMH: Bedroom Tax case study
    http://youtu.be/iExohDwFPoI
They have passed a law which says that those with a spare bedroom on housing beenefit must move into smaller properties, and thus free up housing stock - or face a financial penalty - a bedroom tax based oin the number of spare bedrooms.

This will cause tremendous upheaval and stress exemplified by the case of Lisa and Brett. It is based on the fallacy that the properties to move people into exist at all. Steve Fell of Ribble Valley Homes has publicly stated that there simply aren’t enough 1 and 2 bed homes to relocate people into. The picture is similar across the country. So people will have to remain and see their help cut. Around 440,000 disabled people nationally.

In Hyndburn the housing market already suffers from a supply of homes that do not meet the needs of the households who want to live here. That is one reason why we have amongst the highest number of empty homes in England – the property supply does not meet the demand type.

Other vulnerable people, people who have shared custody of their children, the families of service personnel and severely disabled people will be punished for something that is simply out of their control. There is the particular case of a disabled mother whose two sons are serving in Afghanistan. There bnedrooms are classed as 'spare'.

For nealry all of those affected there won’t be a house for them to move into.

This is a policy that is intended to fail.

It is simply another way that the Government in attempting to put the weight of the cuts on the backs of those least able to deal with them.

It is also doubtful there will be any savings.

If families are made homeless, or pushed into expensive private rented accommodation, the cost to the taxpayer will be higher, and the effect on under-occupancy will be minimal.

Green Vale home in Rossendale predicts that there will be an increase in rent arrears, and Rossendale Borough Council predicts that there will be an increase in people approaching the council due to homelessness. These are expensive developments that ultimately will be paid for by the taxpayer.

We need tough and fair benefit reform that works, but what we have is a Government that is set to spend £13bn more on welfare because of its utter economic failure.

The Government will tell you that they are making ‘tough choices’, in reality they are making the wrong choices.

The real way to get the benefit bill down is to get people back to work.