Bedroom Tax Update: The Mass Sleep Out

kamsandhu —  August 30, 2013 — Leave a comment

On Saturday, thousands of people across the UK left their home as night fell, clutching sleeping bags and roll mats and headed to the nearest city centre.

They slept outdoors, in parks, on benches and on pavements. It was a warning. A warning of how the streets could be at night in the not-to-distant future if they were to lose their homes.

And the reality of these people losing their homes is a very real one.

Six hundred and sixty thousand households are affected by the bedroom tax, of those, an estimated two thirds have somebody with a disability living there.

Many would downsize if they could – but freedom of information requests have proven that the demand for smaller properties far outstrips supply.

So people are often stuck living in a house they can’t afford and fall behind on payments for the chunk of rent that’s no longer paid for them.

Image: tmso facebook

Image: tmso facebook

Until – a smaller place becomes available! Problem solved, eh? If only.
Rules put in place by several local authorities and housing associations before the bedroom tax ever existed mean that many tenants are forbidden from moving while they have rent arrears.

So even though a person who is deemed to be under occupying is happy to move and a smaller property is available, they are stuck. Trapped in the house they can no longer afford, getting deeper and deeper into arrears.

They will then miss out on the smaller home and have to wait all over again. All the while, the amount they owe is increasing and the chance of them ever being able to make ends meet slips further and further away.

Unless they’re struck by great luck (or a small medical miracle in the cases of some long-term disabled people) most people struggling to pay the bedroom tax will never be able to downsize.

Which means the bigger family-sized properties that the Government claim are so desperately needed will remain under-occupied and the people in them painfully poor.

Unless the person in rent arrears gets evicted. Which could solve the problem of emptying bigger homes for families in need. But it also creates a much bigger problem in the long run – mass homelessness.

So the scene of thousands of people gathered in parks and town centres to sleep at night will be one we may be seeing again very soon.

The difference will be that they won’t be able to pack their things and go home in the morning.

To see a slideshow of pictures from The Mass Sleep Out on Saturday go to:

KG

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kamsandhu

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kambass@hotmail.co.uk

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