Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Making room

“We shouldn’t be financially supporting people to have bigger homes than they need.”
“If those living in homes with more rooms than they need moved somewhere smaller, then families who are over-crowded could be re-housed.”

Those statements seem entirely reasonable don’t they? In fact, many councils and housing associations have very good schemes to help tenants, in homes that are now larger than they need, to move somewhere smaller. But those schemes are very different from the Bedroom Tax that the government is now implementing.

In fact, the nature of the Bedroom Tax really tells us everything about the real values of David Cameron and Nick Clegg. 660,000 households are going to be hit. On average, they will lose £728 a year – about £14 a week. More than 10,000 families in Sheffield will be affected, and about 1250 in NE Derbyshire will lose out. In total, that will mean about an £8 million cut in money being spent locally.

The government says it’s targeting the skivers but the reality is very, very different. The Bedroom Tax unfair policy will mainly hit working households and some of the most vulnerable families.

Two thirds of the households hit are home to someone with a disability. Families of young soldiers serving our country will be penalised for keeping a bedroom where their son or daughter can stay when on leave. Bizarrely, if the bedroom is being kept for a son or daughter who’s been sent to prison, then you don’t get penalized. Foster families, who need a bedroom to respond urgently to provide a safe home for a child in danger are also going to be hit. As will thousands of ordinary working households of grandparents who have a bedroom in which their grandchildren can stay.

We can talk as much as we like about the general terms and the statistics. It’s when you see the real impact on real families that you know it’s going to hurt and damage.

And when, at the same time, 13,000 millionaires are getting a tax cut worth an average £100,000 a year, you know just how unfair it is.