9 thoughts on “British Conservative bedroom tax is illegal, court decides

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  6. Thursday 2nd February 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Features

    ZOE STREATFIELD speaks to Sean Clerkin about planned Tory legislation that will dramatically cap the Local Housing Allowance putting thousands at risk of homelessness

    AS PART of their pernicious attack on social housing, the Tories are planning to cap the amount of money social housing tenants receive, meaning that hundreds of thousands of people across Britain will struggle to cover their rent.

    Many thousands of vulnerable people are still unaware of these changes to be introduced in April 2019, which campaigners say will lead to a spike in homelessness.

    Dubbed the “bedroom tax 2” by campaigners, the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) cap will mean that a single person or couple living in a two-bedroom flat will have their housing benefit capped at the one bedroom rate.

    Single tenants under 35 with no children will see their benefits limited to the “shared accommodation rate” (SAR) which is much lower than the average for one-bedroom properties.

    It means that a younger tenant in Glasgow who would normally be entitled to £92.06 under the current system will receive just £68.28 in housing benefit.

    There have been reports that because of the changes housing associations are planning to exclude under 35s from socially rented homes in a scandalous move to prevent them renting out to young people who will not be able to cover their rent.

    The Scottish Federation of Housing Association (SFHA) estimates that around 250,000 in Scotland will be affected by the changes.

    Last December a “bin the bedroom tax 2” campaign was launched to fight the proposed changes. They want to derail the Britain-wide law entirely rather than simply call on the Scottish government to mitigate the impact.

    I spoke to Scottish Tenants Organisation co-ordinator and Bin the Bedroom Tax 2 founder Sean Clerkin about his campaign to raise awareness on the issue and ultimately defeat it.

    He told me that changes were “an ideologically driven attack on the welfare state” and were “designed to impoverish the poor by making people homeless so that the super rich don’t have to pay taxes.”

    In his mind it is a “clear attempt to destroy one of the main pillars of the welfare state — social housing,” which will “drive thousands of vulnerable people onto the streets.”

    It will have a huge impact on people’s mental health and could lead to suicides as people have nowhere to turn, he said.

    He warned that disabled people would be particularly badly hit as the cuts mean that they would not be able to cover the cost of care they receive in sheltered accommodation.

    The move was “brutal, cruel and vindictive” and would be “just the tip of the iceberg” if the Tories got away with it.

    He warned that despite the huge impact this legislation will have on people’s lives, still too few were aware it was going to happen and that there needed to be public opposition and awareness of the changes.

    So far the Bin the Bedroom Tax 2 campaigners have submitted a petition to Parliament calling on the Scottish government to oppose the changes, they intend to protest outside the Scottish Conservatives’ office in February and outside their conference in March.

    They are also lobbying for a meeting with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Housing Minister Kevin Stewart.

    The SNP, Scottish Labour and the Scottish Greens have so far said they are against the changes in theory, but have yet to say what they’ll do to oppose it in practice.

    At the moment housing associations and councils in Scotland are opposed to the changes and want the Scottish government to mitigate the damage — but Clerkin warns that this is not enough.

    He said the Scottish government was already mitigating the bedroom tax at a cost of £35 million a year but the new changes could cost up to £100 million and without progressive taxation of the rich the money would have to come from somewhere else in the budget, such as the cash-starved NHS.

    Simply lessening the damage in the current climate would “be robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Clerkin believes. He is calling for the changes to be dropped entirely.

    “We have two years to stop this immoral piece of legislation being enacted. The Tories have delayed it twice and are on the back foot now,” he added.

    Campaigners are calling for broad-based opposition to the law — in its entirety — involving housing activists and trade unions.

    Protest on February 7 at 1pm outside the Scottish Conservatives office, 67 Northumberland Street, Edinburgh EH3 6JG



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