This shameful and shambolic Bedroom Tax is about to throw thousands of the working poor and unemployed people further into impoverishment and cause untold anxiety and misery for no other reason than they live in their own homes. Two thirds of those hit by this tax are disabled, cannot move because of a chronic shortage of suitable adapted properties, and will therefore be forced to pay more for their housing needs. Only a heartless and brutal Government would force families and individuals that were offered and accepted tenancies in good faith to move away from familiar neighbourhoods, where they may have lived for many years, and from family, friends and support networks.
Where are the 670,000 households (or to put it another way, 1.6 million adults and children) supposed to move to, given that most Local Authorities and Housing Associations are reporting that they have nowhere near enough smaller properties to meet the need? Families who cannot move will be forced even further into poverty by the bedroom tax because it will leave them needing to pay the same housing costs but with considerably less money?
If many of these so called under-occupied households are forced to move into the Private Rented Sector, where property rents are on average nearly twice as much as in Social Housing, the Housing Benefit budget would actually increase.
It is clearly stated in the DWP’s own Impact Assessment, and reiterated by Lord Freud in his speech at the CIH Housing Conference, that one of the main aims of this tax is to “improve work-incentives for working age claimants”, ie by effectively reducing the amount they have to live on, so would it not have been much more effective to just to slash the rates of Jobseekers Allowance and Income Support in an effort to starve the poor into work?
Is it wise to force or even advise an individual or family to invite strangers to live in their own home against their wishes and will, say, a single mother with young children not be put at risk if she chooses such an option.
The extra Discretionary Payment Budget of £30 million is a drop in the ocean. It is likely to help only 1 in 16 of those affected by the tax. In other words 94% will not get help.
The Government cites overcrowding as one of the issues that this tax is supposed to address but the tax will make overcrowding mandatory by forcing chldren to share a bedroom. The Government refuses to provide guidelines as to what size constitutes a bedroom so children will inevitably be forced to share small, unsuitable rooms. Is it right that in a modern society children under 16 should be forced to share a bedroom? Does this not go against their Human Rights to privacy, choice and healthy environment?
Why is this Government targeting social tenants in ‘subsidised’ housing, when only 10 per cent of social tenants under-occupy and the proportion for private tenants is 16 per cent and for owner-occupiers 49 per cent and while a single person who lives alone in an eight-bedroom house will get their council tax reduced by a quarter. In other words, under-occupation by home owners is not penalised but rewarded by, on average, £361 a year?
Steve Webb was completely wrong when he said that working two or three hours extra a week will cover the cost of The Bedroom Tax and the truth is that someone working part-time for 16 hours a week earning the minimum wage would have to work an extra 32 hours (three times as long) to fully compensate for the impact of the tax.
The cost to the taxpayer of the likely evictions and homelessness that will result from this tax will be huge. A typical eviction costs £6000 and a typical homelessness case costs £24,000.