Having moved to Peebles in 2002, ‘Stooriefit’ Bosco Santimano gives us his own take on what he feels is the hot topic of the day. This week it’s the “The Bedroom Tax”.
Since the Tories came to power at Westminster in 2010 led by David Cameron winning the largest number of votes and seats but still 20 seats short for an outright majority, they formed a coalition with the greedy power hungry Liberal Democrats and systematically went about dismantling the benefit system in this country by introducing Universal Credit. This policy was the brainchild of Ian Duncan Smith. The Tories and their Lib-Dem partners used the benefit system to balance the books which took a hit due to the recession, which in fact was caused by the financial institutions. Since many of the Tory supporters and donors are from rich backgrounds they did not dare go after these individuals but turned their guns on the weak, vulnerable and poor in our society who for no fault of theirs were made to pay a heavy price. The general public were made to believe that people on benefits were the cause of the financial crash and the Tories went about destroying the foundation of what was a carefully planned financial support system to help those in need when they most needed it. The gullible public once again fell for the lies of these two parties in government.
One of the main problems with Universal Credit was the introduction of what came to be known as the Bedroom Tax! Under the Welfare Reform Act 2012 the Tories/Lib-Dems voted to bring in policy changes under this reform to remove any subsidies received by social housing tenants for any spare bedrooms. Plus any two children under the age of 16 and of the same gender were expected to live in one bedroom as are two children under 10 regardless of gender. This meant families were hit with a triple whammy of having to pay more rent while the benefits were simultaneously cut to reduce the burden on the state and no affordable housing to move into or relocate. To make matters worse Lord Duncan Smith used his position within The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to set a target of 30% social housing tenants affected by these draconian changes to move home by 2017! Displacing thousands of families across the country. Many organisations, think tanks, human rights groups and even the United Nations have objected to this policy and called for its instant removal.
Coronavirus has disproportionately impacted the most vulnerable and ethnic groups in this country as they were more likely to work in industries that saw the biggest fallout of the pandemic like the NHS and lived in overcrowded accommodations due to the bedroom tax. Having no recourse to an extra room meant that these groups of people were left exposed and vulnerable to the virus. The Scottish Government has been mitigating the bedroom tax since 2013 through funding Discretionary Housing Payments for those affected and has announced it intends to use its powers under the Scotland Act 2016 to abolish the bedroom tax for those on Universal Credit. But politics and Brexit have put people in this precarious situation were lives are being lost due to an avoidable policy put in place by the Tories.
Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 21st August 2020.