2nd January 2013
I do hope you and your family are well and had a restful Christmas break. I would like to thank you personally for all of the work you did to oppose the Pinkham Way waste management site. What a tremendous victory for the PWA and New Southgate. I know I speak for many when I express my gratitude to you for all of your endeavours in this issue, too.
The issue that I would like to raise with you today however is the proposed bedroom tax which is due to be implemented in April of this year. I am not sure of your views on the matter, but I have been following a group on Facebook for quite some time now which has a membership of over 5,000, and I have been very upset by some of the things that I have read there. Whilst I personally am not going to be affected by the bedroom tax as my home is mortgaged (and we don’t have enough room anyway!), I have become increasingly worried about a lot of the welfare reforms that I have been reading about and this one in particular seems incredibly poorly thought out and deeply unfair.
The main problem as far as I can tell is that a huge number of the people who are going to be affected by this tax are vulnerable and/or unwell, and the amount of stress that this is causing them is unimaginable. I read of one lady, for example, who has been living in her home for the past 27 years and suffers from Asperger’s and OCD. Her husband passed away six years ago and her son is grown and has moved away. This particular lady is usually only able to leave her home when assisted by a neighbour, and of course having lived in her home for nearly three decades she has invested a great deal of time and care into its upkeep. She is now suffering real worry that she will have to leave the home that she shared with her husband and all of the memories therein, and leave behind the vital support that she has from her friend and neighbour.
I would love to be able to say that this example is an isolated incident, but it seems from all I have read that a huge number of people who will probably have to leave their homes as a result of this tax are in similar positions. I also spoke with a gentleman who has had it suggested to him that his three teenage daughters ought to share one bedroom. As a father of six I am sure you will agree that this would be really quite disastrous and is not conducive to either rest, study or harmonious living, particularly during the teenage years.
David, I can fully appreciate that there is a huge shortage of affordable housing in the UK right now, but surely taxing people who are already vulnerable and struggling to make ends meet, even if they do have a “spare” bedroom, is not the right way to solve the problem. Whilst I realise that the economy is very difficult at the moment and building more social housing perhaps isn’t viable at the present time, I truly feel that this particular tax is desperately unfair and should not be implemented under any circumstances. I can see the theory behind the idea, but the reality of it is that people are going to be financially unable to stay in their homes, sometimes homes that they have lived in for decades. There are not enough smaller homes available for people to avoid this tax at any rate, so all it will mean is yet more poverty and homelessness. This surely isn’t the answer.
I know that you possibly don’t have a lot of “clout” in this issue, but I would implore you to look into it further as I am sure you are unaware of the genuine torment that this is causing to thousands up and down the country. The forced move of thousands upon thousands of people who either do not wish to move or are not in a position to do so is utterly deplorable. The individuals and families who are going to be affected by this tax are those who are in no financial position to bear the extra expense, not least of the tax itself but also the cost of moving, setting up home elsewhere and all of the associated expenses involved. I don’t think I even need to mention the upheaval and stress this will cause to them.
I do believe that offering positive incentives to people who are willing and able to downsize their homes would be a genuinely excellent idea, but this simply isn’t the way that it should be done.
My thanks in advance for your attention to this matter David, and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the best for 2013.