Ed Miliband has decided to pledge that a Labour government WILL bury the hated Bedroom Tax.
But some top Labour figures are urging him to keep his powder dry and use the abolition like a rabbit out of the hat at the height of the 2015 General Election campaign.
A senior source in the party said: “The Sunday People has run a tremendous campaign.
“Labour WILL repeal the Bedroom Tax. The only question remaining is when.
“But the sooner it’s buried, the better. It’s not just cruel and inhumane in impact but it’s turning out to be the economics of the madhouse.”
Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has been resisting any promise to reverse the housing benefit rule which costs tenants an average £12 a week for an extra bedroom.
Mr Balls feared he would have to find an extra £490million to pay for it. But new figures show the measure will make the benefit bill go UP by £1.5billion because its victims will be forced into the private sector.
Even though their homes will have fewer bedrooms they’ll get more housing allowances because rents will be higher.
There are 5,072,264 people in the UK claiming housing benefit, up 40,000 on last year.
A TUC source said: “If Labour wants to make itself useful it should pledge now to scrap the Bedroom Tax rather than wait until 2015.
“That would hopefully encourage many landlords to hold off evictions, knowing that a Labour government will axe the tax and the associated financial losses.”
And Labour MPs say that the move would unite the party by pleasing those on both its left and right wings.
Also unions say it will be easier to get activists to campaign for Labour if they know they will be definitely crusading for the end of the reviled Bedroom Tax.
Blimey blow me over who would have thought that a subject like Bedroom Tax could cause a stir at the United Nation and a sitting cabinet minister viz Grant Shapps would be very hot under the collar spitting blood vowing he write to the UN Secretary General to protest alleging a UN official Raquel Rolik fail to meet any ministers or officials, was biased and had wrongly called the “Spare Room Subsidy” policy “the “bedroom tax.” Mmm could this be a love match in the making.
When will UK coalition learn their lessons that bedroom tax discriminates against disabled and elderly of any race, creed, and sexuality. May the forces be with the campaigners against the dreaded bedroom tax for taking their case which they are claiming that it breach their human rights. Well done to them if the shoe was on the other foot and residents all decided not to pay their bedroom tax the council on behalf of central government would take us to court for nonpayment.
All this fuss over the bedroom tax which Raquel Rolnik over her recommendations for the policy to be suspended. Well come to earth Grant Shapps I’m sure there will be many people would love to see you live on benefits for five years with no other means to live on then see how it feels.
In the meantime the debate continues The United Nations special rapporteur on housing, Raquel Rolnik, has found herself at the centre of a political storm, after her comments that the recently introduced “bedroom tax” could be a violation of the human right to housing and should be axed.
“The so-called bedroom tax has already had impacts on some of the most vulnerable members of society,” she said in a statement, following a two-week visit, taking in Belfast, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London
“During these days of my visit, 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.”
‘Woman from Brazil‘
Ms Rolnik is an international housing expert with 30 years’ experience. The UN said she was invited to the UK by the government. But Conservative party chairman Grant Shapps has lashed out at Ms Rolnik, calling her report “disgraceful” and referring to her as a “woman from Brazil”.
(Bedroom tax) appears to have been taken without the human component in mind – Raquel Rolnik
He has written to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon calling for an investigation, saying that Ms Rolnik did not meet with the secretary of state at the department for work and pensions (DWP) or request policy analysis on the bedroom tax, and asking for clarification on whether Ms Rolnik met with Labour representatives and those campaigning against the policy.
He told the BBC he would be asking: “how it is that a woman from Brazil has come over – a country that has 50m people in inadequate housing – has come over, has failed to meet with any government officials”.
— Stewart Jackson MP (@SJacksonMP) September 11, 2013
How can this former Brazil Workers Party minister address an Axe The Tax rally & then write a balanced report? http://t.co/JYI2xGEA8y
Housing as human right
The government’s spare room subsidy, dubbed the bedroom tax by its detractors, has proved one of its most controversial welfare reforms. It was damned by paediatricians for its “appalling” impact on families with disabled children – a criticism that also came from the high court, despite ruling in favour of the government that the policy does not discriminate against disabled people in social housing.
Ms Rolnik has now added her voice to concerns. She acknowledged the pressure put on governments because of the economic crisis, and the UK’s good record on social housing, but said that reforms to the welfare system, plus cuts in housing grants, “appear to compromise the realisation of the right to adequate housing and other related human rights”.
The UN official has previously spoken out against forced evictions and acted as an observer in Rwanda, Kazakhstan and Indonesia. Her role is to assess a country’s provision of article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the “right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family” – which includes housing, and which Britain has signed up to.
When asked if the UN had a right to come to the UK to observe housing policy, a Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) spokesperson told Channel 4 News: “We live in a democracy”.
Mr Shapps said Ms Rolnik had acted inappropriately and had “clearly come over with an agenda”.
“It is completely wrong and an abuse of the process for somebody to come over, to fail to meet with government ministers, to fail to meet with the department responsible, to produce a press release two weeks after coming, even though the report is not due out until next spring, and even to fail to refer to the policy properly throughout the report,” he told the BBC.
In a press release, the United Nations said that she met government officials working on housing issues, various human rights commissions, academics and civil society during a two week which finished on 11 September.
Kathleen Kelly, housing policy specialist at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), said that Ms Rolnik’s assessment of the UK’s housing policies came at a critical juncture for the UK. A JRF report from April this year found that housing costs had pushed an additional 3.1m people into poverty and called for policy makers to pay more attention to the link between housing and poverty.
“The really fundamental point that the UN special rappourteur is making, is that social housing has been a really important part of the UK’s welfare reform, but the evidence says there are fundamental flaws in the system,” she told Channel 4 News.
“It’s right for the UN to look into housing policy in the UK. It’s important she raises challenges in this area. We have an excellent record on that (social housing), but it is under strain.”
The DWP said in a statement: “It is surprising to see these conclusions being drawn from anecdotal evidence and conversations after a handful of meetings – instead of actual hard research and data.
“Britain has a very strong housing safety net and even after our necessary reforms we continue to pay over 80 per cent of most claimants’ rent if they are affected by the ending of the spare room subsidy.”
Ms Rolnik’s final report will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in March 2014