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.

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Prisoners will escape The Bedroom Tax as armed forces get charged

The government are not counting jailed members as part of the £14 a week extra room charge.

50,000 criminals will be exempt from the tax for up to 6 months whereas 96,000 members of the armed forces will lose out.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said:

“This government is so incompetent it is hammering soldiers but protecting prisoners.”

Jim Murphy, the Labour defence spokesman argues

The affect on soldiers from The Bedroom Tax is a metaphor of attacking our own patriotism. He argues:

“If you choose to serve you should be rewarded not penalised. Service families and parents or partners of Regulars or Reservists could be hit because their loved ones choose to defend our country. Mandatory training or deployments overseas could mean families having to move house or pay more. That is not right and people will wonder whether the Government has got its priorities straight”

Their is a lot of controversy surrounding this issue and families of military forces are fuming;

“No soldier should be penalised, especially as said before, they are deployed by the government in the 1st place.”

Case study on military forces affected by the tax

An army mother of twins Aaron and Anas El Hamri is worried that when her sons return for serving in Afghanistan, they will be homeless. As the twins will be sent off for 6 months at a time, Mother, Alison Huggans will be penalised for the bedroom tax. Anas argues;

“Taking away my house makes me think, ‘what are I serving my country for?’”

For more information click on the link.

 

The government aims to put more effort into housing

John Pierce, the campaigns officer at National Housing Federation recently discussed how ‘yes to homes’ believes that the answer to the housing crisis is

“Not to force families out of homes, where they have lived for years…but to build more affordable decent homes quickly”

The housing associations are currently working towards helping people budget their money for rent or into seeing they swap into another property. However, The Bedroom Tax will be affecting more families than expected as John Pierce admits that council housing will also be at risk.

The person responsible for getting more homes built is the government. In their Housing strategy published in November 2011, David Cameron and Nick Clegg stated: “One of the most important things each generation can do for the next is to build high quality homes that will stand the test of time.” They said that the Government plans to “get Britain building again.”

So far though there has been little action upon these words, what Britain needs is a bigger effort from businesses, local authorities and from the government.

For more information on how we can build more homes and fix the housing crisis, right click here:

Or for more on how The Bedroom Tax might affect local communities read the link below:

Foster carers being penalised for fostering

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.”

1 in 5 council tenants work full time

More than 20% of council tenants in the UK have a full time job, suggesting that full time workers are likely to be significantly affected by the Bedroom Tax. Around 265,000 people live in Local Authority Housing nationally. This is a large proportion of the estimated 660,000 people to be affected by the Bedroom Tax.

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Statistics from 2011/2012 indicate that full time workers are potentially one of the most affected demographics. This sparks debate on whether hard working people and tax payers deserve to have their benefits cut as of April 2013. To many, the Bedroom Tax highly affecting those in full time work is likely to be seen as unfair and unjustified.

However, Councillor David Barrie (Conservative), believes Bedroom Tax is in the interest of the tax payer:

“As a hard working tax payer would you be happy to pay for someone else to live in expensive housing that you could not afford?”

Data released by the Government also shows that job seekers will potentially be the most affected by the Bedroom Tax, as over 22% of council tenants are looking for work. Around 1 in 5 of those living in Local Authority Housing are unemployed. This demographic is sure to see the most negative effects from the Bedroom Tax.

People to miss the upcoming policy change are to be students, where less than 2% live in council housing. Only 0.2% of council tenants are in training, so this group of tenants are also likely to not be affected.

Younger women than men to be affected by Bedroom Tax?

Statistics released by the Government indicate that almost twice as many 16 to 24 year old females, than males, are likely to be affected by the Bedroom Tax. 17% of male council tenants in the UK are aged 16 to 24, in comparison to nearly a third of females.

This data from 2011/2012 suggests that young women are likely to be highly affected by the Bedroom Tax policy as of April 2013. It is possible that many more younger females than males live in Local Authority Housing, because of the recent issue of teenage pregnancy. The UK reportedly has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Western Europe, with almost 3% of girls aged between 15 and 19 giving birth every year. Therefore, the Bedroom Tax may be forcing vulnerable mothers and innocent babies out of their homes this Spring.

Around 265,000 people live in Local Authority Housing in the UK, with Birmingham having the largest Local Authority by population nationally. This strongly suggests that a large amount of council tenants will be affected by the Bedroom Tax in the region.

Your questions answered

Some answers to your most frequently asked questions:

Why is the Bedroom Tax being undertaken?

The housing bill is topping £21 billion a year. The Government claim this is too much to be paying and needs to be dramatically cut. Figures state that nearly one million empty bedrooms are being paid for through housing benefits. Steve Webb MP (Government Minister) told ITV News last week: “Thousands of families are living in over-crowded accommodation and their voices need to be heard as well.”

Who will be affected by the Bedroom Tax?

All claimants who have one or more spare bedroom(s) will be affected. This includes:

  • Separated or divorced parents who share the care of their children and who may have provided an extra bedroom because of this.
  • Couples who use their spare bedroom for recovering from an illness or operation.
  • Foster carers, due to foster children not being counted as part of the household for benefit purposes.
  • Parents whose children visit but are not part of the household.
  • Families with disabled children.
  • Disabled people including those living in adapted or specially designed properties.

How does the Bedroom Tax affect lodgers?

As of April 2013, lodgers will count as occupying a room under the size criteria rules. Any income from a lodger will be taken into account and deducted from benefit (apart from the first £20). This reverses under Universal Credit – lodgers will not be counted as occupying a room and the size criteria reduction will apply, but any income from lodgers will be fully disregarded and will not impact on the amount of a claimant’s Universal Credit award.

What about students living away from home?

Households where there is a room kept for a student studying away from home, will not be deemed to be under-occupying if the student is away for less than 52 weeks (under housing benefit) or 6 months (under Universal Credit). Under housing benefit rules, students are exempt from non-dependant deductions. However full-time students will not be exempt from the Housing Cost Contribution, which replaces non-dependent deductions under Universal Credit. All young people under 21 are exempt from the Housing Cost Contribution, but students over 21 will face a contribution in the region of £15 per week.

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a new single payment for people who are looking for work or those on a low income, which will be launched this year. Universal Credit will help claimants and their families to become more independent and will simplify the benefits system by linking together a range of working-age benefits into a single streamlined payment.

How will the Bedroom Tax operate under Universal Credit?

Some differences will occur when the bedroom tax operates under housing benefit (April 2013) compared to Universal Credit when it is introduced. These differences are as follows:

To find out more about Bedroom Tax, click here.