Speaking in Brighton at the start of the Labour Party conference, Ed will say the Bedroom Tax has become a symbol of an out of touch government standing up only for the interests of a privileged few. He will describe how two-thirds of the 660,000 people affected are disabled and the vast majority do not have the option of moving to smaller accommodation. Continue reading
What exactly is the point of the bedroom tax? Its ostensible purpose is to free up accommodation from those who don’t need it to those who do. Just about everything is wrong with that argument. If that were really the rationale, the obvious way to solve the problem would be to build more social housing when the total build last year including all tenures was just 98,000 houses, the lowest level since 1923 and less than half the average annual house build over the last 40 years.
And if that were the real motive, why confine it to social housing and exclude private tenancies, let alone owner-occupied housing where surplus rooms (to use the government’s phrase) are far more prevalent? So is it to save money? If so, the bedroom tax is particularly ill-suited because if tenants are forced to move, there is nowhere near enough one-bed social housing available to accommodate them and they will be forced into private tenancies at market rents which will cost the State more in local housing allowance than the saving in housing benefit. Continue reading
I must start with a confession. I really don’t like Grant Shapps who for some reason is the Tory party chair. He comes across as a haughty up-market barrow boy who’d tread on his mother’s face if he thought it would advance his career or turn in a bigger profit. You know what I mean – heartless, callous and downright nasty. However, I must admit I hadn’t realised before that he’s also got a very thin skin.
He really doesn’t like anybody criticising him or his party. He doesn’t turn a hair at propagating a policy of social cleansing, evicting families for having a spare room when their child died. Nor when their son has been killed in Afghanistan (as happened to one of my constituents). Nor because someone’s disability required a second bedroom. But when an official UN rapporteur comes to Britain, with an agenda organised by the UK government, and uses the phrase ‘bedroom tax’ rather than the government’s gobbledigook ’ending the spare room subsidy’, he goes ape. Strange man – obviously caught the Tory germ of overweening arrogance rather young. Continue reading
I was very sorry to hear the legal challenge to the bedroom tax was thrown out of the High Court after just eight minutes. Sorry, but not at all surprised. And, if I’m honest, right from the start I’ve been of the opinion this action wouldn’t go anywhere. Natural justice and that administered by HM Courts and Tribunals Service seldom meet, and, indeed, under the law, the government’s bedroom tax has not broken it.
The grounds the policy were contested on were human rights laws; that the policy unfairly discriminated against disabled people. It’s incontestable that it does. With Employment Support Allowance capped by a real terms cut at 1%, Disability Living Allowance to shortly be reduced in scope under the obscenely-named ‘Personal Independence Payments’, price inflation, and the making hundreds of thousands liable for a contribution toward their Council Tax bill, it’s obvious a punitive policy like this would hit our most vulnerable people – among whom are disproportionate numbers of those who live with disabilities. Continue reading
But lawyers acting for the claimants said they welcomed the criticism by Lord Justice Laws, sitting with Mr Justice Cranston, that the Government has been aware since May last year that the law must be changed to provide for disabled children but failed to act early to make the necessary regulations and that the current state of affairs “cannot be allowed to continue“. Continue reading