The Northern Irish Executive sealed a deal to pay £17 million to stop the Bedroom Tax from being implemented.
What‘s that tax?
It’s officially called “under occupancy tax. ” Working age people in social housing who have a spare bedroom will find housing benefit claims reduced by £40 to £80 a month.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said “the taxpayer can no longer afford to pay for people to live in properties larger than they need.” That justified forcing social housing tenants to pay 14 per cent more a week for one “spare” room, and 25 per cent for two or more or telling them to downsize into smaller properties
Why can’t people take in lodgers?
Where are all these single, homeless lodgers to come from?
Anyway, in April changes in the housing and tax benefit rules meant single tenants with a lodger wound up worse off than living alone and paying the bedroom tax .
Who pays the bedroom tax?
It targets many middle-aged or older people.
They’ve been in the same homes for many years and have so-called “spare” rooms because often their kids have grown up and left or their partner/spouse has died. Sometimes they are sick or disabled. Terminally ill Veronica Kenning, 57, of Shard End in Birmingham, was issued with an
by the council for refusing to hand over the £23.57-a-week payment.
Sadly Veronica Kenning died on Saturday- 19th October 2013.RIP. Thanks for the heroic stance you took Veronica. May your spirit live on forever
Why can’t the people just move to a smaller flat?
There aren’t enough, as Bedroom Tax minister Lord Freud admitted.
The tax itself has caused demand for one-bedroom homes to massively outstrip supply. Councils did not build many small homes because they try to cater for families
and they say that before the Bedroom Tax tenants did not need them.
Human rights lawyers say that,
unless the families move from their homes into smaller properties, they face building up rent arrears and being forced out anyway.
The TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady,
said: “The bedroom tax is not saving money. Instead it is pushing up rent arrears which will force councils to waste more cash on evictions, debt collection and emergency support for homeless families”.
The United Nations’ special rapporteur on housing Raquel Rolnik
found the reform was causing “great stress and anxiety” to “very vulnerable” people.
So what are people doing?
Stephanie Bottrill, a 53-year old grandmother was distraught at having to leave the home she had lived in for 18 years, where she had raised two children as a single mother because she couldn’t afford the £20 extra a week
Her suicide note said “The only people to blame are the Government.”
Is there no appeal?
Some courts have ruled a boxroom
is too small to be a bedroom and that spare rooms are sometimes needed for other equipment – but not always.