A friend of mine has just received confirmation that, because of the bedroom tax, he will now be required to find an extra £13.38 per week towards his rent.
My friend is disabled and the spare room for which he is liable is little more than a box room. Two square feet less and it would have been defined as a box room. The letter also contains a veiled threat. “If you don’t keep up with your rent payments,” it says, “your home will be at risk.”
Isn’t this just the meanest piece of legislation ever? What it really amounts to is a benefit cut for the most vulnerable in our society, penalising them for being unable to work.
What is my friend supposed to do? He cannot move. There are no suitable one bed room flats available. His only option will be to absorb the cut in his already meagre income or risk being thrown out on to the street.
Meanwhile, at the same time, the government has also scrapped the 50p tax rate which will mean that, on average, millionaires will be £100,000 a year better off. And on the same day, Barclays announced that is was giving its top executives £38.5 million in bonuses.
You may wonder at the timing of this, making this announcement on budget day. Was it a ham-fisted attempt to bury the news, or a show of bravado, making it clear to the public that the bankers really don’t care what we think?
Head of the investment arm of the bank, Rich Ricci was given £17.6 million in share options which he immediately cashed in. In other words, this one man, with one single bonus payment, could pay the bedroom tax for well over twenty five thousand people for a whole year.
The single homeless person’s charity, Crisis, said recently that in the last two years there has been a 31% increase in rough sleeping. What the bedroom tax will do will be to exacerbate the situation even further, driving many more people out of their homes. Expect more deaths on our streets in the near future.