Saturday, 17 August 2013

Bedroom Tax: DHP or not DHP?

 I have been biding my time before writing the Coalition’s ‘Spare Room Subsidy’, or as we opponents call it, the ‘Bedroom Tax’. The rules were changing so quickly that any article I put together would probably be out of date before it was published.
However with several more national protests due to take place on the 24th August ( http://tmso.org.uk/)  I felt now was the right time.

The government denies that it is a ‘bedroom tax,’ but the way I see it is this.

 If a Housing Benefit Claimant has to lose fourteen percent of their benefit for one spare bedroom and a further twenty five percent for each spare bedroom after that, then what is it if not a ‘Bedroom Tax?’

Whilst no one is denying that there are families that are in accommodation that is too small for their needs, the reality of what the ‘bedroom tax’ will do (and has done already) cannot be ignored.
 People who cannot afford the extra charges imposed on their bedrooms are being forced to downsize.

They can of course apply to their local Council for a Discretionary Housing Payment (but that only amounts to around £2.40- per household- and is temporary). As things stand the claimant needs to reapply for Discretionary Housing Payment every thirteen weeks. This will only add to the stress of the situation.

The money itself comes from the national government and has not been ring fenced. The government can use it somewhere else if necessary. can use it for something else if necessary.  

Also, the fact is it will be nowhere near enough to cover all those that need it and I can’t help but feel it has been severely under publicised.

The governments ‘pay up or move’ idea will actually cause more problems than it solves. To begin with there is a national shortage of social housing since it was sold off in the 1980’s as a result of Thatcher’s ‘Right to Buy’ incentive. The social housing stock has simply not been replaced since.

According to the National Housing Federation, there are 70,000 one bedroom properties available, and 188,000 properties. I have been told that there are at least two million people who will need to be rehomed. 

This leads to the obvious question – where will people go? One and two bedroom homes in the social housing sector are few and far between, and it is undeniable that there will be an upsurge in homelessness as a result. Source:  http://www.crisis.org.uk/pages/why-we-need-your-help.html

 In fact, even before the bedroom tax began on April 1st this year, there was a rise in people and families seeking accommodation in hostels, and local councils were placing people in Bed and Breakfast as the austerity already began to bite. This is no way for a family to live, but it’s better than living on the street which many people fear will be the only option for some.

The government is of the opinion that most people will choose to stay in their homes and pay the extra costs. Was this the plan all along? Is it just a money making exercise? In my opinion, yes!  We are dealing with Tory ideology after all, and once again it is the poorest and most vulnerable in society paying the price.
You may already be aware of the various exemptions that the government have (begrudgingly) agreed to after intense pressure from campaigners and charities.

Families with disabled children are now (apparently) exempt from the tax. However,  even since the Burnip case court ruling, this has not yet been implemented. It is a step in the right direction, but disabled adults are not yet exempt. It is a fact that two thirds of those affected by ‘bedroom tax’ are disabled.  

Those with learning difficulties and mental illness are not exempt either. Can you imagine how being forced out of a home you feel safe and secure in would be for someone who has these issues? It is unsettling and stressful enough for those that are not dealing with illness and disability, never mind for those that are!
Benefit claimants are not just numbers on a page. We deserve security, safety, a decent life, and respect. 

This government are stripping the poorest and most vulnerable in society of even that.
Bedroom Tax and all the pain and suffering it is causing (and will go on to cause), should stop now.
Forcing people out of their homes is not the answer. We need more social housing and an end to the austerity measures.

This crisis (along with many others) could be ended if tax loopholes were closed and the money was reclaimed from those corporations and rich individuals that have not paid their share.
We need to stand together and fight against this policy and many others that are a severely detrimental and heartbreaking affect on people’s lives.

Source: for Discretionary Housing Payment information:


1 comment:

  1. It's shameful and cruel, thanks for publicising this issue.