Thousands of families still facing bedroom tax misery despite 'cynical ploy', thunders union
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Housing
New Unite leader claims Government 'dismantling very fabric of society'
The UK's biggest union has dismissed the government's decision to exempt foster carers and members of the armed forces from its bedroom tax policy as a "cynical ploy".
Unite says that the exemptions - announced by Iain Duncan Smith yesterday - will not help the majority of the 660,000 people set to be hit by the policy, which comes into force on April 1.
The union claims that separated parents who share the care of their children and families with disabled children will continue to lose out by an average of £14 per week under the new under-occupancy rules, whilst two thirds of those affected will be people with disabilities.
"This eleventh hour change of heart by the government indicates that they are fully aware of the needless pain this policy will bring. Hundreds of thousands of people - including many thousands of children - will still lose out as a result of this cruel policy," said Unite general secretary Len McCluskey (pictured).
He added: “This concession will be welcome relief for foster carers and military families but huge numbers of families will still be uprooted and some of the most vulnerable people in society will be plunged even deeper into poverty.
"Schools are already seeing pressures on their budgets caused by the funding cuts that follow when kids are forced to leave. In the rush for media-pleasing policy, the wider societal effects of this hare-brained policy really do not seem to have been considered.
“These exemptions are a crowd-pleasing attempt to deflect attention away from a chaotic policy that is set to cause misery for ordinary people.”
Meanwhile, the Scottish government's welfare minister also weighed in over the Coaltion's latest bedroom tax exemptions.
Margaret Burgess MSP said: "This is a small step forward, but will be a relief to foster parents and members of the armed forces who were due to be hit by the bedroom tax.
"However, initial estimates suggest this is probably only around one percent of those in Scotland who will have their housing benefit reduced by up to a quarter in April as a result of the bedroom tax.
"That is why we want to see the bedroom tax scrapped. It is a policy that simply should never have seen the light of day.
"Even with today's changes it is unacceptable - it continues to be unfair, still hitting tens of thousands of disabled tenants hard. Disabled people must be exempt, as must those in temporary accommodation and Women's Aid refuges.
"The UK government should withdraw the bedroom tax. But, if they persist as Westminster ministers seem determined to do, there must be further major concessions.
“For example, Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) are Westminster’s funding solution for not just the bedroom tax, but all housing benefit changes. Currently Scotland is to receive just £10m in DHPs. This is just 6.5 percent of the total DHP allocation for next year despite having 16 percent of the total number of people due to be affected by the bedroom tax in Great Britain. This needs to change.
"While we are doing what we can to help, this is policy is bring imposed by Westminster. Independence, with full powers over welfare, is the only way to stop unfair policies like the bedroom tax."