Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Bedroom Tax

Tonight, unsurprisingly the Tories and their Liberal Democrat colleagues have voted to keep the most unpopular piece of government legislation since the poll tax. The alleged motivation for the under occupancy penalty (bedroom tax) is to move people into more appropriate houses to resolve the chronic housing shortage. This is a disingenuous assertion. Across the country properties are not available in the required numbers for tenants to downsize into, even if they want to. Unfortunately, this does not matter. Those who physically have nowhere to move are still subject to this penalty.

There are a number of reasons why I consider the bedroom tax a nasty and spiteful piece of legislation. The first being the number of vulnerable people targeted. Disabled people are not excluded from the bedroom tax despite what David Cameron and many of his colleagues have said. Carers are not excluded from the bedroom tax. (Locally a man who worked for most of his life looks after his wife full time and is subject to the bedroom tax because he can no longer share a bed with his disabled wife.) Separated parents who share custody of a child are not exempted from the bedroom tax, even if the spare room is for their child to live in when they stay. Children under 10 are expected to share a room with their sibling regardless of gender and children 10-16 of the same gender are expected to share a room, otherwise they are subject to the bedroom tax. No consideration is given to the size of the room and whether you can actually physically fit two beds in the room.

Times are tough, living standards have been falling for the last three years. The British Red Cross are set to hand out food parcels for the first time since the Second World War. Food banks are increasingly being used, locally I was advised at a full council meeting by the Conservative lead member that 7 families from Shepshed travel to Loughborough to receive food parcels. Energy bills are continually on the rise, something that also hits those on higher cost pre-payment meters. Some in this government blame the people themselves for their hardship. However, when people are suffering, telling them it is their fault and making their lives more difficult benefits no one; especially when the person saying this is a millionaire who has never had any difficulty paying any bill.