What is bedroom tax for?

I spoke at a meeting in Hollingdean last night, on behalf of the fledgeling Brighton Bedroom Tax Victims Support group.  This is roughly what I said:

I’m speaking on behalf of the bedroom tax victims support group. We’re trying to bring people together, gather information about the impact of bedroom tax on people in B&H, and present that to the council to give victims a stronger united voice. We’ve put posters up round the estates and people have been contacting us. We’ve heard some heartbreaking stories.

What is bedroom tax for?

Is it to make fairer use of limited social housing?

No, because we are not talking about unused rooms. We are talking about families like the people we have heard from in Brighton, who have taken in two of their grandchildren after their daughter died, and need a bedroom for when their third grandchild comes to visit. How is it fairer to disrupt those children’s lives yet further?

Is it to save money on benefits?

No, because we are not talking about people living the high life on free money from taxpayers. We are talking about people who are just scraping by already, on money that is just enough to keep body and soul together.

Like the tenant we have heard from in Brighton whose serious illness means he is no longer able to get out and live the active life he used to in the community. But at least he has a flat adapted to meet his needs, above a shop and with supportive neighbours. How will it save money to make him move away from that support network into a place that will need expensive adaptations?

How will it save money to push people into debt, depression and isolation?

What is it for then?

It’s to change the way we think – about each other, and about housing.

The tories hope the bedroom tax is the final blow to the idea of housing as a public service, the idea that everyone has a right to a secure and decent home.

Instead, they want us to think of social housing as some kind of reward for the deserving poor – something that can be given and taken away according to how ‘well’ people behave.

And they want us to think about people on benefits as scroungers, selfishly hoarding houses while other families are living in overcrowded conditions.

What can we do?

We can remember – and remind the people in power – that everyone has a right to a home, and to a private family life. Housing is not about fitting people into boxes like jigsaw pieces, it is about people having a stable base for their lives.

We can share our stories and listen to each other – bedroom tax victims are not stereotypes, they are real people. People who have lives, families, responsibilities, neighbours and friends in their communities.

We can support each other to break down the resentment and fear many people are feeling.

We can demand that our elected representatives actually represent us, support us and stand alongside us.

If anyone wants to get involved in the support group, please comment below – I won’t make your comment visible if you don’t want me to, but I will contact you by email.

2 Comments on “What is bedroom tax for?”

  1. I couldn’t agree more, very few families, couple or even singles who are considered to be under occupiers have rooms lying empty – or do not have very good and sound reason why they want and often need to remain in their present HOMES!

    This is what this Government is failing to understand, or does not care about –
    These are HOMES – they are far, far more than just the bricks, the rooms, the spaces that make up the houses, flats or maisonette’s that people occupy.

    They are where the whole family can get all together for a Sunday dinner together,
    They are where grandchildren come to stay and play. They are people have kindly supportive neighbour’s living close by to help out at times of need.

    They are where separated parents can care and share the custody of their children from,
    its where the person with dementia feels safe familiar surrounding,
    Its where the children have their friends around and about, and the school they attend nearby – Its all of these things and so much and many other things to so many people !!

  2. […] stealth, the whole way we look at things becomes inverted. Just as with the bedroom tax back in 2013, the most powerful and long-lasting effect of these vicious policies is not the impact […]

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