Today the House of Commons will gather to vote on whether the bedroom tax should be scrapped. Labour is likely to vote for an immediate repeal, the Conservatives are likely to keep it in whilst the Lib Dems are split, with some representatives voicing concerns over the policy and some still supporting it.
Mounting evidence from the months since the policy was introduced in April, demonstrates the punishing nature of this policy which does little to ‘use up the housing stock’, as David Cameron suggests.
In fact, this premise was entirely debunked by The independent in August this year, when statistics showed that 96% of families affected had nowhere to move to. A lack of smaller social housing stock means that 19 out of 20 families have no other options but to fall into arrears, which demonstrates the policy as a means to penalise the poor.
Further, should families and individuals fall into arrears, they are not able to move until these debts have been paid off. And so, if a family want to move to save money as government suggest, but have fallen behind due to the tax itself, they cannot escape. This is trapping people up and down the country in poverty cycles.
The coalition government did promise to exempt those with certain needs such as ex-servicemen and children with disbailities. But this was also a lie. 5 families had to take the DWP to court to amend the bedroom tax policy, so that it didn’t target disabled children who may need the extra room for equipment, or are unable to share rooms. The alternative to being unable to pay, according to their local councils and government, was to allow their children to be taken into care.
For winning this exemption, the families who fought are now being subjected to more punishment as the government attempt to place legal costs on the shoulders of the families who brought the case to court.
The government seem to be making this battle hard at every turn, but the bedroom tax is unworkable. It is forcing people into poverty and debt through no fault of their own and provides no help for those in difficult situations.
It would be wise for the government to drop the policy now. The bedroom tax cannot continue. A report from U.N rapporteur Raquel Rolnik is also due before the end of this month and she has already voiced concerns over the Human Rights breach of the policy. Even she was subject to a torrid attack from Tory Chairman Grant Shapps for speaking out against government.
Still, the message is getting out and the public are beginning to see how punishing and unjust this policy is, despite the best efforts of government to silence these voices.
Whether the hated bedroom tax is voted out today or not, the MPs will elect who they stand with today, whether that is with the perpetrators of a solely punishing and crippling law against the poor, or with the people being put at the mercy of it.
Some protestors will gather outside Westminster today in a demonstration against the bedroom tax. Let’s hope this is one of the last times they will have to.
The debate will take place at 12.45pm.
by Kam Sandhu – @KamBass