On 1st April 2013, 670,000 people in the UK were informed that their housing benefit was going to be cut by £14 a week if you had a spare bedroom in your property or by £22 a week if you had more than one spare bedroom. The Government call this policy the “Spare room subsidy”, we as campaigners call it the Bedroom Tax.
450,000 people affected by the Bedroom Tax are disabled people, 60-70 per cent of households in the UK have a disabled person living in it. A year on from the introduction from the bedroom tax, and we are seeing that 9 out of 10 disabled people have cut back on eating to pay the bedroom tax, 4 out of 10 disabled people have cut back on mobility care support, and 37 per cent of people have had to cut back on medicines needed to treat their various illnesses and impairments to pay the bedroom tax to keep a roof over their head.
We are seeing councils up and down the country take into account a disabled person’s Disability Living Allowance (DLA) when a claim for discretionary housing payment is applied (DHP) despite this benefit not being means tested. This benefit is to meet a disabled person’s care and mobility needs. 3 out of 10 disabled people living in housing adapted to meet their needs have been denied DHPS’ compared to non disabled people, a blatant case of discrimination by the councils themselves.
Disabled people need a spare room because of the equipment they may have to store for their condition, i.e., a wheelchair, or specialist machinery like dialysis equipment for example, or if a partner, may need a spare bedroom because the person with an impairment is sleeping in a hospital bed, unable to sleep with their partner, and their partner needing that spare bed in order for them to sleep so they can continue to care for their loved one at home.
This policy is causing great harm to many, we have seen people like Stephanie Botteril take her own life as she worried how to pay the £20 a week to keep her home, money she simply did not have, people with mental health impairments sectioned when the bailiffs have made an attempt to enter their property as the claimant has been served with an eviction notice, and it is important to stress, that in the last 12 months over 15 per cent of claimants affected by the bedroom tax are facing eviction causing a great deal of distress and uncertainty for many.
It’s important that we support the campaign to get the bedroom tax abolished, cap rents and build more social housing, housing is a human right, and should be available to all. Help us campaign against this draconian unjust policy, help stop the bedroom tax!