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.

Video: Interview with Councillor John Cotton

Councillor John Cotton from Birmingham City Council kindly gave an interview giving his opinion on the Bedroom Tax.

He raised his serious doubts and concerns with the Bedroom Tax and how it is an

“iniquitous and unfair measure that’s been brought in by the coalition government that’s going to have a terrible impact on a large number of vulnerable people”

 He repeatedly referred to the policy as a “blunt instrument” used by the government to “chase headlines” which he admitted it has, only they may not be the headlines they desired. Below is the video.

After the interview John gave a final note, emphasizing the point that there are still a lot of people out there that do not know about or understand the Bedroom Tax and that awareness is key, finishing on that anyone wishing to know more about the Bedroom Tax can visit the councils dedicated web page.

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.

Video: Stuart Richardson of the Trade Union Council speech at protest

Stuart Richardson, treasurer for the Trade Union Council, gave a speech this week at the protest outside of Birmingham’s Council House voicing his opposition to the proposed welfare cuts.

He spoke about the “disastrous” effects the cuts would cause across Birmingham and those in it. He describes the Bedroom Tax as

“a program of starvation, that is saying that people should live on, at worst, £49 a week, that’s virtually impossible to feed yourself on and buy any clothes on that scale of money but that is what’s being proposed.”

 

Video: Interview with protester at this weeks demonstration

This week protesters turned out in their masses at Birmingham’s Council Hall to voice their disdain with cuts, including the bedroom tax, that the government are putting through.

One of the groups that were involved in the demonstration was the Socialist Workers Party. Andrew Howard from the party was on hand voicing his outrage at the Bedroom Tax,

“They’re making working people pay for the crisis…as I understand from the Bedroom Tax that it is actually going to cost more money to implement than they’re actually going to save.”

Councillor accuses government of ‘chasing headlines’ with the Bedroom Tax.

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.