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Op-Ed: April introduction of UK 'bedroom tax'

By Eileen Kersey     Feb 3, 2013 in Politics
As part of the British coalition government's austerity measures, welfare reform has taken centre stage. An introduction of a 'bedroom tax', for those in receipt of housing benefit is scheduled for April.
In the bad old days of British history the poor were often ravaged by unrealistic taxes, such as the window tax and the poll tax. The poll tax was resurrected under the government of Margaret Thatcher but protests and non-payment led to reform. Council tax was introduced and the poll tax abolished.
Council tax though was still a costly affair. Those who had lost a great deal of money when the 'rates' were replaced with the poll tax never truly recovered financially. As with all tax changes there were winners and losers. The winners tended to be those with large, expensive properties in the UK. That could change. According to the Daily Mail, last November, the UK government is planning 'A £2 billion ‘backdoor mansion tax’ which will clobber prosperous parts of Britain.'
Whether that 'mansion tax' will be created or not is unclear, but the 'bedroom tax' is due to begin in April.
The current UK government is a Conservative, Liberal Democrat alliance. This coalition government is often referred to as the Condems and it is not hard to see why.
Welfare reforms are ongoing in the UK. This is the chosen path rather than hitting those who can afford a financial hit. Your view on welfare reform will be personal but I doubt that many people in the UK will agree with the latest 'invention''
Introduction of a 'bedroom tax'
From April 2013 all claimants who are tenants of a working age will experience a reduction in housing benefit, if their home has what is termed a 'spare bedroom'. The National Housing Federation website carries the following information:
The size criteria in the social rented sector will restrict housing benefit to allow for one bedroom for each person or couple living as part of the household, with the following exceptions.
Children under 16 of same gender expected to share
Children under 10 expected to share regardless of gender
Disabled tenant or partner who needs non resident overnight carer will be allowed an extra bedroom
Who will be affected?
All claimants who are deemed to have at least one spare bedroom will be affected. This includes:
Separated parents who share the care of their children and who may have been allocated an extra bedroom to reflect this. Benefit rules mean that there must be a designated ‘main carer’ for children (who receives the extra benefit)
Couples who use their ‘spare’ bedroom when recovering from an illness or operation
Foster carers because foster children are not counted as part of the household for benefit purposes
Parents whose children visit but are not part of the household
Families with disabled children
Disabled people including people living in adapted or specially designed properties.
The cut will be a fixed percentage of the Housing Benefit eligible rent. The Government has said that this will be set at 14% for one extra bedroom and 25% for two or more extra bedrooms.
The Government’s impact assessment shows that those affected will lose an average of £14 a week. Housing association tenants are expected to lose £16 a week on average.
How many people will see their benefit cut?
The proposal will affect an estimated 660,000 working-age social tenants – 31% of existing working-age housing benefit claimants in the social sector. The majority of these people have only one extra bedroom.
There are various reasons the government cite for the creation of this tax. Under occupied social housing which they are paying through the nose for. A need for more social housing. A necessary cut in the welfare reform budget. All admirable at first glance.
Bear in mind a couple of things though. You may be part of a hard working family unit. One that does not earn a fortune but is able to comfortably afford your home, which is classed as 'social housing'. One of you loses your job and you are now faced with a dilemma. You could either be facing moving home or having to experience a reduced level of housing benefit, due to the 'bedroom tax'.
Of course social housing is in short supply. Back again to Mrs Thatcher. Her Tory government stopped social housing building projects in the public sector. They introduced the right to buy any council property you occupied. These two factors diminished housing stocks rapidly.
So you have lost your job and now face looking for the smallest property or living on a pittance.You may be in your sixties but you could still be classed as working age. Presumably this will also hit claimants with a mortgaged property.
With a shortage of social housing good luck with your search!!
The 'bedroom tax' shows the depths our current government are prepared to stoop to, to balance the books, whilst protecting the elite. Unbelievable.
Download this guide to check out if you will be affected.
STOP the bedroon tax petition here.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about bedroom tax, Austerity, UK austerity, uk budget, uk welfare reform
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