The Tory attack on some of our most vulnerable, hard working citizens steps up a gear from April 2013 when we will see a number of welfare changes. One of the most draconian changes that will kick in, is that of the Bedroom Tax, which is all part of the housing benefit changes and aimed at tackling the problem of having socially rented homes being under occupied. The tenant will see further cuts to their housing benefit for every “spare” bedroom that they may have. This will mean a cut of 14% for one spare room and 25% for two or more spare rooms.
While David Cameron is doing everything he can to ensure that our wealthiest citizens avoid paying any form of mansion tax, on their multi-room properties he is just as determined to ensure that any council or housing association tenant with a “spare room” will have to pay a penalty for under occupying their home.
At the moment tenants over the age of 65 are exempt from the bedroom tax but when you consider that there are large numbers of people in that age group who find themselves living alone in what was once their family home, I am sure it won’t be long before this exemption is reconsidered.
There are also many knock on effects to this ill thought out attack on tenants in the socially rented sector, for example if someone is the carer for their disabled partner and has to sleep in a separate room, they will be penalised because the new rules only allocate one room per couple.
I can’t help thinking that this latest Tory attack on council and housing association tenants is somewhat reminiscent of the window tax that was introduced in 1696 and led to the popular phrase “Daylight Robbery” becoming a common expression. It also reminds me of the stories we used to hear, at the height of the cold war, about the Stalinist housing policies imposed on the citizens of the USSR and the communist block, where the dictatorial state would move its citizens to what it considered to be an appropriate sized flat in a cold grey tenement block. Is this the secret to where David Cameron’s got his “All in it together” vision, where of course some are more in it than others?
Cllr Peter Curling
Leader of the Labour Group
London Borough of Hillingdon