Wrong to hurt poor families
JUST when the nation seems to be settling into a more benign era, the government is about to turn the clock back 316 years and impose a levy reminiscent of the resented 17th century window tax – a tax on bedrooms.
The Window Tax was a graduated tax imposed in Britain in 1697 on houses with more than six windows. It was not repeated until 1851.
The government's "bedroom tax" takes effect in April and will hit housing benefit claimants who have spare bedrooms.
For a variety of sound reasons, many social housing tenants experience intervals during their tenancy where they find themselves temporarily with a spare bedroom e g a son joins the Armed Forces or a daughter moves to university.
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From April, social housing tenants claiming benefit with spare bedrooms face a choice of either downsizing, taking in lodgers or losing an average £14 a week of their housing benefit.
Where the estimated exodus of 600,000 tenants living with spare bedrooms are expected to move to is a mystery. There simply aren't enough smaller social housing flats and houses available. Many tenants will be forced into privately-rented accommodation which could end up increasing the government's housing benefit bill.
The consequence of this action is likely to cause much personal and family unhappiness for those tenants who have lived in their home for many years. Even the Prime Minister David Cameron looked uncomfortable when asked specific questions regarding the "bedroom tax" in the House of Commons recently.
I understand the need to reduce the massive deficit inherited from the last government. But it is really necessary to put thousands of low income families through this ordeal in order to balance the books?