There was a strong Bridgend presence at the South Wales Against the Bedroom Tax meeting on Monday that endorsed this letter
Remove the curse of bedroom tax
Since its introduction in 2013 the ‘bedroom tax’ has wrought misery and desperation across Welsh communities. In a nation where 23% of citizens experience poverty and suffering, the practice of forcing social tenants to pay money that they do not have or downsize to properties that do not exist flies in the face of social decency.
Against this dark background, we note the publication of the Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee third report on the impact of welfare reform in Wales in the same week that witnessed the first reported bedroom tax eviction in Cardiff. Alongside other proposals, the committee recommends “a cost/benefit analysis of mitigating the full impact of the removal of the spare room subsidy through discretionary housing payments, as the Scottish Government chose to do.”
This is vital!
The perfect storm of welfare reform and uncertainty surrounding the implementation of universal credit combines to paralyse the sector. For two years, the discretionary housing fund has been used to square the circle for the most vulnerable. Topped up by Welsh Government in 2014, many of the 33,000 tenants forced to pay the charge would be unable to sustain their homes in its absence. For this reason, Westminster’s plan to cut this budget and share it equally between the social and private sector portends a cruel train wreck.
Over the course of 2013 and 2014 social tenants in Wales were made subject to 5,136 suspended possession orders. Whereas we cannot discern how many of these were affected by the bedroom tax, we can say that all of these tenancies are highly vulnerable – the court has already granted possession to the landlord and it will require a very small infraction to trigger repossession.
Can we imagine the human and material cost of even 513 evictions across Welsh communities? What of 1,500 or 2,500?
Welsh Government spends a lower percentage of its expenditure on housing than either Scotland or Northern Ireland. It is essential that the housing budget is expanded so that the DHP top-up does not come at the expense of other vital housing services. In Scotland, no tenant pays the bedroom tax. We call upon Welsh Government to show the same leadership, act upon the committee’s recommendation and take tens of thousands of Welsh tenants out of poverty and misery.
Jamie Insole, Cardiff & South Wales Against the Bedroom Tax
The Most Reverend Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales
John Puzey, Director, Shelter Cymru
Steve Clarke, CEO Welsh Tenants
David Lloyd – Director, TPAS Cymru
Sue Leader, Unite Community