Labour Councillor John Cotton expressed his concern for the Bedroom Tax and the impact it will have on social housing tenants within Birmingham, claiming mistakes were made by central government in introducing a “flawed” policy.
Councillor Cotton felt the government’s introduction of the Bedroom Tax was an ill thought out policy which only added to an already worsening housing situation within the city,
“This is exactly what happens when government policy chases headlines rather than dealing with the actual issue head on.”
With 10,000 council tenants estimated to be affected in Birmingham and a further 5, 000 tenants from registered social landlords, Councillor Cotton claims that the policy will have mass implications on societies most vulnerable.
“What I find deeply troubling is that the people affected are the working class and vulnerable, who are seemly being punished.”
Councillor Cotton highlighted that not providing a living wage is a key issue within the welfare system, suggesting that the low wage low skill economy needs to change as the castigation of the poor could lead to a, “widening gulf of inequality within the city”.
With 16, 629 people currently on the housing waiting list in Birmingham and 37,000 households living in congested conditions, the West Midlands is accountable for almost half of families living in overcrowded accommodation across the country.
Councillor Cotton identifies the housing crisis to be due to an inadequate amount of funding from central government which is needed to act upon Birmingham’s housing issue,
“We know what the issue is, we know what the solution is, but we need the resources.”
With the city councils limited resources and a lack of funding to finance these new builds, it appears that the Bedroom Tax will only be adding to a worsening housing situation as Councillor Cotton states,
“you couldn’t have designed a more perfectly mad system for dealing with this, it really is iniquitous.”
Funding from the central government to provide the build of new homes is what is needed. According to Councillor Cotton who believes it will resolve the housing crisis, giving tenants under the social housing sector a chance to downsize whilst relieving the increasingly concerning housing waiting lists. It is this lack of funding which is becoming a concern for the Birmingham City Council as supporting tenants is becoming “hard.”
In an attempt to support tenants and those estimated to be affected by the Bedroom Tax Councillor Cotton highlights the ways Birmingham City Council are attempting to handle the “consequences” of the policy.
By setting up a multi-agency community with advice agencies, councils and housing associations Councillor Cotton attempts to frame a response to the welfare reform, where mapping food banks advice and support for social housing tenants can be accessed.
“We are trying to put all things we can in place to support tenants.”
Listen to our full conversation with Councillor John Cotton.
For Further support and advice Birmingham City Council are working with those affected in the ways they can avoid the taxation in their website.