A year after it was first introduced, the Bedroom Tax has been revealed to be nothing more than a means of making working and poor people pay for a crisis they didn’t cause. The government had claimed the tax was meant to address the problem of chronic overcrowding by freeing up under-occupied homes but, as usual with the Tories, this is just a convenient excuse to cover up their real intentions.
A year after it was first introduced, the Bedroom Tax has been revealed to be nothing more than a means of making working and poor people pay for a crisis they didn’t cause.
The tax is a cut to the amount of housing benefit social housing tenants receive if they have a spare room. Tenant’s benefits are slashed by 14% for one room and 25% for two or more bedrooms. This has left 498,000 social housing tenants in England, Scotland and Wales £14-£25 a week worse off.
The government had claimed the tax was meant to address the problem of chronic overcrowding by freeing up under-occupied homes but, as usual with the Tories, this is just a convenient excuse to cover up their real intentions.
A report by the BBC has revealed that just 6% of those affected by the tax have moved in the first year. This is because it just isn’t possible for most people to move. This is either because they are disabled, and have made expensive adaptations to their properties which would be impossible to recreate if they were to move, or there just aren’t any smaller houses for them to move into.
So the reality is the bedroom tax has nothing to do with freeing up social housing; it’s just one of many ways that the government is making the poorest pay for the capitalist’s crisis.
The effect of the tax has simply been to laden people with debt and place them at risk of losing their home. 27% of those affected are now in rent arrears for the first time as they just don’t have the money to pay the tax and 3% have had legal action begun against them by their landlord. This means 15,000 people are facing the possibility of losing their home and being thrown out on the street.
It is commendable that the Labour party has committed to scrap the tax should they win the 2015 election but for those people facing homelessness this isn’t enough. Labour local authorities up and down the country need to commit to not evicting tenants in arrears and the labour movement should organise defend people against evictions.
Ultimately attacks such as the Bedroom Tax can only be permanently defeated by a struggle against capitalism itself. Although Labour have pledged to scrap the tax they have also voted in favour of the Tories Welfare Spending Cap and remain committed to carrying out the cuts and ‘getting the deficit down responsibly’. The insoluble nature of the current crisis means that as long as they remain wedded to capitalism they will have to carry out the cuts, if not through the bedroom tax then through another equally vicious attack. It is not a question of ideology but the logic of the market.