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This pogrom against the poor shames our values & our country

Each of the richest 1% of households in the UK, according to government figures, owns property wealth worth on average £15 millions. This wealth, totalling £4.5 trillions for this whole 1% elite class, is greater than that possessed by all the remaining 99% put together. Yet the 1% are being required to make no contribution at all to reducing the country’s budget deficit, and among the other 99% it is the bottom tenth who are being forced to carry the overwhelming cost of the cutback in personal and household incomes. The roll-call of deprivations that is about to hit the poorest is without precedent both in its range and intensity. But it is the bedroom tax which symbolises the harshest and most vicious assault on the survival of the most vulnerable.

As it happens, the government itself has noted that the rapid increase in the number of homes with spare bedrooms is to found among owner-occupiers. But if anyone were to suggest that a spare bedroom tax be applied to them, all hell would be let loose. It’s only all right to attack those who live in social housing because they get housing benefit – though, curiously let it be noted, those who live in privately rented accommodation and receive local housing allowance are exempted from this bedroom tax.

But why in a national funding crisis should those who get housing benefit be singled out to be penalised? The reason they’re on housing benefit is because they’re either jobless, sick or disabled, of pensionable age, or employed but on very low wages – none of which do they choose to be and any of which they would escape if they could.

The only reason they get State benefits (for which many have actually paid through income tax and national insurance contributions in the past) is that they need this assistance to avoid destitution, poverty or homelessness, so why are they now to be deprived of what the State has hitherto regarded as the minimum they need for sheer subsistence?

If then the argument is that they are being subsidised for more than they barely need to survive, that raises several further questions. How many ill or disable persons have specialist medical equipment which can only be stored in a sparfe room? How many couples who can’t share a bedroom for medical reasons will be forced to move? How will separated parents who share custody of their children be affected, and will it lead to further family breakdown? How many will be penalised for having (like one of my constituents) a boxroom measuring just 8ft by 8ft?

Is it right that children underf 11 should now be forced to share a bedroom? Above all, if they are forced out of their own homes – surely an outrage and disgrace in one of the richest countries in the world – where will they go when there are already 1.8 million households on Council waiting lists and less houses were built last year than in any year since 1923?

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