Yesterday, 14th March, a Scottish Multiple Sclerosis sufferer was notified that she will lose part of her benefits payments to cover the cost of her spare room – yet, as her condition deteriorates, her partner and carer will need to be in a separate room.
West Scotland MSP, Stuart McMillan wrote yesterday to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne MP, highlighting his concerns over the UK Government’s welfare reforms – which include the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ proposal.
A series of MSPs of all parties have protested about this ill-considered tax on benefits. including local MSP Michael Russell.
This week the trial is progressing of Mick and Mairead Philpott, accused of setting fire to their own home with the consequent death of six of Mr Philpott’s children with his mistress and his wife.
The motive is said to have been to discredit his former mistress who had moved out of a menage a trois in the house in question and was contesting custody of five of the children, who were hers with Mr Philpott. It has been suggested that the dispute at issue was less custody of the children than custody of the child benefit allowance they attracted.
it would make far more sense simply to pay child benefit for a maximum of two children than to impose this silly and indiscriminate ‘bedroom tax’. Local authorities must house the homeless and the needy as best they can. They do not have – could not have – the housing of all sizes that would allow them accurately to match people to home size, giving each no more than their bare needs.
The only alternative for those issued with notification of this tax is to be rehomed. Supposing there is nowhere else available?
This is a particularly mean spirited move – in the context of a cultural approach to room sizes in social housing and indeed in much of the private market, that is pinched in the extreme.
Stuart McMillan says: ‘The introduction of the ‘Bedroom Tax’ alongside the other damaging cuts to the Welfare Budget, will negatively impact on disabled people and the most vulnerable groups in our society.
‘Disabled people should be able to live in a dignified manner with the support of our Government. However, as the statistics highlight. they will be the real victims of this unfair tax
‘Children are also set to be affected as separating parents are forced to move individually in to smaller accommodation – which could see the children sleeping on a sofa when they visit their non-resident parent.
‘I have therefore written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to urge him to use his budget statement on March 20th to change the Government’s policy on this costly proposal.’
The full text of Mr McMillan’s letter to the Chancellor is here: Letter to the Chancellor – Bedroom Tax – 14th March 2013.
Like the Poll Tax, which brought the ruination of the previously powerful Conservative party in Scotland, the ‘Bedroom Tax’ is politically unwinnable without taking serious damage. Any politician with a nose for what is possible and what is impossible would see the sense of pulling back from this one.