Election time is coming, and there’s inevitably discussion about which party is best for separated/separating parents and their children. One important matter I hope will be remembered is the bedroom tax and its impact on families.
If you’ve forgotten the comments of Lord Freud on how non-resident parents should accommodate their children, remind yourself:
While only two Libdem MPs voted against the bedroom tax, it’s worth remembering the words of Andrew George MP (one of the two Libdem rebels who voted against the coalition):
“The spare room penalty/bedroom tax victimises the most marginalised in our communities, it undermines family life, it penalises the hard working low paid for being prepared to stomach low paid work, it masks the excessive cost and disruption caused to those disabled people who have to move from expensively adapted homes and is Dickensian in its social divisiveness.
I hope that those Ministers who live in multiple spare room mansions and who strenuously oppose the Liberal Democrat “Mansion Tax” will be prepared to look the victims of this policy in the eye. Even where those affected are prepared to move to up root themselves from a long standing family home to a smaller property they tell me they can’t find anything within 20 – 30 miles. So to escape the bedroom tax they would have to move many miles from their community, their work place, local school, family and social networks, church etc. and re-establish themselves in a place which they may consider to be completely alien. Or of course they could choose a property in the private sector and cost the taxpayer more!”
For many parents, there simply wasn’t the option of downsizing to a smaller property. Libdem MP John Hemming supported the bedroom tax, but in Birmingham, 13,557 households were affected by the bedroom tax, with just 368 one and two-bedroom properties unoccupied. While non-resident parents and the disabled could consider moving to a bedsit in a shared house, the prospect of children sleeping in a communal living room with other adults in the house who aren’t CRB checked is a worry. Do all adults vacate the living room at the children’s bedtime? What happens if access to the toilet or kitchen is via the living room? Andrew Murrison, Conservative MP for Wiltshire South voted for the bedroom tax, despite there being no available one or two bedroom properties for 2,953 households… and the list goes on, and on, and on.
The Bedroom Tax was and is Conservative policy, supported by all bar 2 Liberal Democrat MPs. Conservatives promised to introduce shared parenting legislation. They didn’t. They and the Libdems instead introduced a policy on housing which made even staying contact more difficult to achieve for the poorest in society, and disabled parents.
Please remember this at election time, and vote for a party which promises to abolish the bedroom tax.