UN backing to scrap the bedroom tax
CALLS for the bedroom tax to be scrapped made this week by a UN official have been welcomed by the Swindon Tenants Campaign Group.
The United Nations’ special rapporteur on housing, Raquel Rolnik, expressed serious concerns about a deterioration in the enjoyment of the right to adequate housing in the UK.
Around 1,100 people living in Swindon have been affected by the under-occupancy penalty which charges people for having extra rooms not in use in their council homes.
During her two-week mission, the special rapporteur visited London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast and Manchester, where she met Govern-ment officials working on housing issues, and various human rights commissions, academics and civil societies.
Raquel also heard first-hand testimonies from individuals, campaigners and local community organisations.
“The so-called bedroom tax has already had impacts on some of the most vulnerable members of society,” said Raquel.
“The dramatic testimonies of people with disabilities, grandmothers who are carers for their families, and others affected by this policy, clearly point to a measure that appears to have been taken without the human component in mind.”
Martin Wicks, chairman of the tenants campaign group, began a petition, which has collected more than 2,000 signatures, calling for the council to lobby the Gov-ernment to scrap the tax.
“Her comments sound extremely sensible,” Martin said folowing Raquel’s visit.
“Less than 100 people have moved into smaller homes in Swindon, which compares to the 1,100 people affected by it, which is an indication of the difficulty in finding accommodation.
“I’d be over the moon if the Government did say it had made a mistake and withdrew the legislation.
“The Government is helping buyers by providing state funding so people can buy homes of up £600,000 and at the same time cutting money from the people who are on the £71-a-week Jobseeker’s Allowance by introducing a cost for their home, which seems nonsense.”
Raquel called for the bedroom tax to be suspended immediately and be fully re-evaluated.
A report with her conclusions will be presented to the Human Rights Council in March 2014.
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