Government committee calls for bedroom tax to be abolished
Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Regulation
House of Commons committee calls for bedroom tax to be abolished
The Commons Scottish Affairs Committee has called on the government to abolish the bedroom tax.
In an interim report published today, the Committee recommends suspending the application of the controversial under-occupancy policy for tenants to whom a reasonable alternative offer can be made, whilst parliament organises a repeal.
The recommendation takes account of evidence the Committee received which it says clearly shows there are not enough smaller houses available for tenants hit by the bedroom tax to transfer into.
The Committee says that the vast majority of tenants affected by the policy will have been allocated their existing housing before the new tax was invented – and the lack of any alternative offers means that they have no choice but to go into arrears if they simply cannot afford the extra costs.
Other amendments proposed for the operation of the bedroom tax include:
- Exemptions for those disabled people who require a room to store or use equipment or aids or who require to sleep apart from their partner.
- Non application where it would be financially perverse to do so. For example, where the only alternative of a smaller private let would be more expensive or where removing fixed aids and adaptations, and then reinstalling them in a smaller home, would be more expensive than the savings over two years.
- All children of secondary school age should be allowed a bedroom of their own to allow quiet study.
- All disabled children, of whatever age, should have a bedroom of their own.
The Committee also believes there should be changes to the system of discretionary housing payments, which the government hoped would mitigate the worst impacts of the tax, such as:
- There should be a standard nationwide entitlement system, across the UK as a whole, rather than the present postcode lottery. Councils would then be free to take account of local circumstances above the basic national safety net.
- Both the UK and Scottish governments should make longer term commitments to the provision of DHP payments in order to allow local authorities to plan and structure their budgets and minimize the prevalence of short term DHP payments.
Committee chair Ian Davidson said: "This is an interim report because, while the impact of the bedroom tax cannot yet be fully quantified, it is already clear that it is a cruel burden being placed upon the shoulders of those least able to bear it.
"This tax is little more than a cut in public expenditure, designed to hit the poorest.
2We have produced an interim report because some glaring flaws are already apparent and notwithstanding our call for the tax to be abolished, we wish to draw these faults to the government’s attention while it is conducting a review.
"We intend to explore more fully not only design flaws but also what can and should be done by the Scottish Government, social landlords and others to mitigate its effects on the vulnerable in Scotland.
"Local visits to affected communities are planned, with the first being today, Monday 16 December, to Airdrie and then Castlemilk where various formal and informal meetings will take place with the people dealing with the impact of the bedroom tax."