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Bedroom Tax affects disabled persons

Living alone and suffering from Asperger, a 52 years disabled women residing in a three bedroom house at Birmingham has been affected by Bedroom tax. She has one son who is married and settled in life. Her husband has passed away six years ago and continues to live in the same house facing lots of problems.

She explains her difficulties that she faces in day today life:

“I am suffering from Asperger. It has a terrible Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). It takes me more than an hour to get out of my house. I am being helped by my friendly neighbour, whom i have known for the past 27 years, to reach the road from my house.

“Due to my weak health conditions, I could not make new trusted friends. I fear I will be housebound, if I could not get support of my friends.”

Being reminded of her husband, she says:

“I was with my husband for 30 years and felt terribly when I missed him 6 years back. I feel suicidal and need to have counseling and hypnosis. But my Asperger remains.

“My home is full of memories. I honestly don’t know how to cope up with the new financial constraints. I feel my husband around me all the time here. I don’t want to lose that.

“My late husband got the house as per our needs. He decked the garden and my son designed the drive way costing around 2,000 pounds. My house is not a council house to leave just like that.

“I can’t start again my life in another house/flat with decoration, carpet, and garden. And I am claustrophobic, so a flat would be out of question any way.”

Considering her family, she says:

“I have two wonderful grand kids who would like to stay overnight in my house. Due to my health problems, this shouldn’t affect the kids by not having rooms to stay over.”

The lady has approached the council and local AP expressing her problems and worries, whose response was that to stay and pay the taxes or move to a different place. According to her, The bedroom tax would cause destruction across the country.

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Fight to Cut the Cuts

On February 26, a campaign was held in front of Council House at Birmingham protesting against the Cuts. The campaign started from 11 am by the activists blockading all entrances to prevent councilors from entering the budget meeting. At 2 pm, Council Budget meeting was held.

From a statement on the Save Birmingham website:

“We are taking this action because austerity is economically backward and is not helping the economy. Furthermore, these cuts to Birmingham are highly undemocratic and against the will of most people living in the city – who didn’t vote for this.

The £101 m of cuts to be voted on today in Birmingham include a cut of £32.7 million to the Adults and Communities budget, £23.8 million to Children Young People and Families, and £28.3 million to Leisure Services. High on the hit list are: Voluntary Sector Funding (£4.4 m), Children Centres (£3 m), Children Residential Care Homes (£1.6 m), Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (£1.4 m), Home to School Transport (£1 m), Youth Service (£0.47 m) and reduced subsidy for the Meals Service (£0.4 m).

We must now fight these cuts on the ground service by service. Victories can be won! Campaigners across Birmingham have overturned cuts with well-organised campaigns.”

Outside Council House the representatives of the campaign placed few books, leaflets of upcoming protest, and banners. The public approached to them to share their problems and views towards various cuts.

A rally began at 5 pm outside the Council House with demonstration. It began with the speech by one of the campaigner about the cuts which was followed by many others. In the beginning; around 40 people were present which increased as the rally proceeded by shouting:

“DON’T VOTE FOR THE CUTS” 

Charlie Hayes, one among the campaign expressed his views on Bedroom tax. He considers Bedroom tax as an attack on working people. The below link is an audio on his opinion towards Bedroom Tax:


 
A retired teacher named Lynn Gregory was one of the protester giving her full support in the campaign. She expresses her views on Bedroom tax:

“It is incredible to know that people should be penalized for having spare rooms. In some situation such as foster children who live in a place are being taxed and foster families are losing money because their children being foster.”

She mentions about disabled people who were given disability living allowance in order to live independently which is also been cut. The campaign also supports the disabled people. The government needs to change the policies by keeping in mind the public difficulties.

‘This was my home, my safe place for 31 years, but not any more’

A 59 year old disabled woman from Birmingham talks about how she will be hit by the Bedroom Tax. She has been living in the house for the past 31 years and she finds it as a difficult task to leave the place.

Requesting anonymity, she explains her situation:

“I have been living in a social housing arrangement in Birmingham for 31 years. I am on Disability Living Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) as I have Scoliosis and suffer from long standing anxiety attacks and depression.

“From the age of 15, I had been working in a factory 40 hours a week and paying my taxes. I have done a lot of physical lifting and carrying and cleaning. Even after my marriage, I had to work for my three children. Now all got settled in their life and left home.

“I live in a three bedroom house as it was allocated to me 31 years ago when I had three children to bring up. It is my home, my safe place. Words cannot express how upset I am and how this decision is affecting my illnesses.”

She considers Bedroom Tax to be all about social cleansing. Getting rid of the poor, disabled people of society and slowly squeezing the life out of them and making them suffer are the reasons for introducing such taxes.

Criticising the government, she says:

“I believe this government is ashamed of disabled and poor people because this tax does not affect anyone else. If you have the money you can stay in an under occupied house but if you are dependent on benefits you can’t afford to stay as you don’t have enough money to pay and eat or heat.

“I think the government will just top up the causes they choose to support with the extra money. I suspect none of this money will be spent to build more suitable housing after they’re sold. In fact they’re still selling their social housing stock at ridiculous knock down prices.”

Housing benefit enables me to live like a human being. Take that away from me and I may as well be a homeless animal scrounging around the wealthy’s bins for food.”

She says there is no one-bedroom accommodation available under her housing benefits scheme.

” I will have to suffer and pay more. I am living on the edge of fear all the time and feel very ill and frightened. I had a life, when once looked forward to being this age, enjoying with grandchildren. But not anymore.”

To solve such problems at least in future, she shares her opinion saying that the government can implement the changes with new tenancies after April 1st. This would create awareness among people and plan their future expenses accordingly. Instead of not just dropping this bombshell out of the blue and causing untold misery and hardships.

“Bedroom Tax will curtail spending capacity” says estate agent

Mr. Ranvir Singh, an employee of Henley Charles Estate Agents at Erdington, Birmingham shares his views on Bedroom Tax.Bedroom Tax is for social housing and doesn’t affect private lending sector. The Henley Charles Estate Agents deal private lending sectors with individual landlords. Hence the company and its employees will not be affected by the tax.

The government is conservative in introducing the tax, with a view to cut down some benefits to staff and as such it is a staff tax. As regards with the use of the tax revenue, it will benefit in getting big rooms at a lower cost, which will be affordable to people. If people cannot afford the tax, they have to move out to small spaces, facilitating others to use the bigger space who can afford. Also the tax in effect curtails the spending capacity of people.

He says:

 “Bedroom Tax will affect from the individual person up to national level.”

The company has a data base of lots of people who wish to move houses with lesser number of bedrooms. Also, it has the details of tenants and people without housing benefits. On the issue of shortage of smaller properties in Birmingham, if private landlords are given offer, the same can be resolved.

Following are the housing beneficiaries: An unemployed and less than 25 year will get 220 pounds per month. For such persons, if they are above 40 years, 400 pounds will be given towards payments including bedroom allowance. A family with two children will get two bed room allowances. If they are in three bed room house, either they can move to a smaller house or pay the tax.

On the business prospects of the company, Mr. Singh was of the view that the first time buyers will find it difficult to buy a house. It is a good time for letting agencies all over the UK.

In Erdington, most houses were built long back in the years 1920s and 1930s, mostly with three bedrooms. Also, the houses built in 1950s and 1960s were also mostly three bedrooms ones. While the majority of present families are eligible for two bed room allowances only, the people of Erdington are the most affected.

The present situation of shortage of small houses and other issues can be resolved by the council, provided the private landlords are encouraged under some specific schemes, like assuring to take them for a period of five to ten years contract. Then the present situation will melt down to normal in a period of two years.

The below link would help to calculate the number of Bedrooms required in accordance with the number of family members in different age groups from April 1st:

http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/housing_benefit_-_bedroom_calculator_for_social_housing_tenants.htm

“Bedroom Tax not feasible for the poor, disabled and the unemployed”, says campaigner

Opposing the Bedroom Tax, Birmingham Against The Cuts will hold a protest meet on February 26 at the Victoria Square. Mr Tom, representing the group Birmingham Against The Cuts, says Bedroom Tax will make housing unaffordable for many in the city.

Bedroom Tax will have negative consequences for many people and has increased the risk of homelessness. Many of the bedrooms classed as spare are in fact used, such as those being slept in by foster children, those used by visiting children of separated parents or those used in a variety of ways by disabled people, who form two-thirds of those affected by the charge,”

Birmingham Against The Cuts was formed in 2010 to campaign against government cuts. The group was formed by a number of left wing political bodies, trade unions and individuals who oppose cuts and austerity and work together to change government policy.

When asked about the benefits of revenue that would be received from Bedroom Tax,he says:

“There are not enough smaller properties for people to move, and so they will be forced into the private sector which is more expensive, causing housing benefit bill to rise, not fall.

“Some people will go into arrears being unable to pay. This loss of revenue to councils and housing associations will mean fewer affordable homes being built in the future, putting further pressure on the housing benefit bill. Others will go short on food or not heat homes in order to pay their rent.”

Birmingham Against The Cuts has been campaigning to stop welfare reforms and benefits. They also support the people affected by the tax and protects them from eviction.

According to Tom, The Bedroom Tax will only benefit the people living in private rental sector.

He says:

“The government has rejected a mansion tax on houses over £2m in value but tax the poorest, and council tax is capped so the wealthiest pay proportionately far less than those in an average house. Any tax should focus on those who can most afford it.”

Lack of smaller properties will push people to private housing

The Bedroom Tax proposed by the government is “a further attack on our social security system and affordable housing” says Tom, a member of Birmingham Against the Cuts. The group, formed in 2010, has been opposing various cuts and austerity measures introduced by the government.

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He says:

“It is another ill-thought-through move on the part of the Tory coalition, with so many exceptional circumstances that make this benefit cut unfair and unworkable.

“When the rooms that foster children sleep in and the rooms separated parents keep for visiting children are considered spare, it is clear that this charge will penalize people who are not under-occupying.”

He also opposes the idea of charging disabled people to live in housing that has been specially adapted to their need.

Birmingham Against The Cuts is a group formed of trade unions, service groups, user groups and campaign groups in Birmingham to oppose the cuts being made by the conservative/liberal democrat coalitions both nationally and locally.

Tom says:

“If there were enough smaller properties available then getting people to move from larger properties they don’t need any more makes sense.

“But this should be done through financial encouragement to move and not by forcing people to move out of the communities they have lived and worked in for decades.

“Forcing people to move from social housing to more expensive private rentals to escape the bedroom tax will see the housing benefit bill rise, not fall.”