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Wednesday, 11 September 2013

The Bedroom Tax, the Government policy whereby people in social housing who the Government deems to be underoccupying their homes have to pay up 14% to 25% of their housing benefit - which amounts to picking the pockets of the poorest and most vulnerable every week - has been denounced by a UN investigator. Raquel Rolnik claims that she is "shocked" by the tax and stated "My immediate recommendation is that the bedroom tax is abolished".

The Independent reports her as saying: “I was very shocked to hear how people really feel abused in their human rights by this decision and why - being so vulnerable - they should pay for the cost of the economic downturn, which was brought about by the financial crisis. "People in testimonies were crying, saying 'I have nowhere to go', 'I will commit suicide'".

The article states that Ministers expect to save £500 million annually. Even if that's true it amounts to less than half a percent of the £120bn tax gap due to tax avoidance, evasion and non-collection of earnings of the super rich every year. In reality many if not most of these spare rooms are fictitious. If two children occupy two seperate bedrooms by the government's standards this is seen as a spare room and that's just one of many examples of the arbitrary character of the charge. This tax shows the class basis of the current Government (why arn't they taxing the spacious homes of the rich?) and also how disconected the Governemnt is from ordinary people's lives. It is wrong to expect the poorest to pay for the crisis created by the bankers.

Carlisle Socialist Party has been very active locally fighting the tax as part of the Axe the Bedroom Tax group, getting together petitions against the tax on the estates and helping to organise an open air meeting against the tax outside the block of one bedroom flats in Botcherby that were being knocked down by Riverside. We think that instead of punishing the poor, two million new council houses should be built to tackle the lack of affordable housing. Cap rents, not benefits.

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