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.
As of April 2013 foster carers across Birmingham will be left paying between 14% and 25% of their current housing benefits whether there is a child occupying the room or not.
There are approximately 2000 ‘children in care’ at any one time in Birmingham, according to Birmingham City Council, whom they are responsible for and “aim to find stable, secure and caring homes” for. These looked after children may be housed across a number of in house homes and private sector accommodation, but as of 2009 1190 of children in question were in foster care. That’s 60% of all Birmingham’s looked after children who’s carers potentially stand to shoulder the short fall.
This is down to a technicality with the current benefits system, according to the current outlines “when calculating how many bedrooms a family unit require, a room for a foster child will not be taken into account. Therefore, a household that has an extra room for a current or potential foster child will be treated as under-occupying”.
So for a foster carer who has one bedroom set aside for a fostered child, and is in receipt of the average housing benefit of £89.27 per week, will now have to pay £12.50 of that back, a shortfall that could be at the cost of the child. If a carer has two or more rooms for foster children that amount jumps £22.32.
Birmingham City Council Adopt/Foster Appeal.
The Bedroom Tax will be leaving thousands of foster families with their benefits cut and trust in the Government broken, a spokesperson from UK charity, The Fostering Network, said.
“Foster carers are dangerously exposed to the potential of being penalised for fostering.”
The Fostering Network provides information about fostering, gives support to members and campaigns to improve foster care. However, the Bedroom Tax is putting strain on the charity and its work. Foster carers face the problem of their foster children not being counted as part of the household, for benefit purposes, leaving these families with ‘spare’ bedrooms.
A housing fund of £5 million has been made available for local authorities, to support foster carers across the UK. However, The Fostering Network’s spokesperson expressed how even this will not help:
“Unfortunately this money is not ring fenced and can be used for other areas of housing. Therefore, some foster carers are being told that they must use their fostering allowance to cover any shortfall. This is meant to be spent solely on the child’s day to day needs, not their housing costs.”
The spokesperson for The Fostering Network appeared extremely concerned and upset about the upcoming Bedroom Tax policy. This urged the charity worker to question foster care’s uncertain future:
“These changes are causing some foster carers considerable anxiety and to wonder if they will be able to continue to foster.”