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By Lynn Malone

The UN’s Special Rapporteur on housing meets with academics at Glasgow University today to thrash out Westminster’s welfare reform which imposes the hated bedroom tax on vulnerable Scots.

She will assess the impact of the Con-Dem policy which leaves people on low incomes and those with disabilities and terminal illness facing the threat of eviction. Tenants considered to have more bedrooms than they need have had their housing benefit cut since the Bedroom Tax was introduced in April with up to 80,000 households in Scotland affected. The average loss is calculated at £620 per household a year.Ms Rolnik met tenants affected by the policy as well as officials, campaigners and academics at an earlier visit to Edinburgh.

The UK government say the change tackles an unfair spare room subsidy not available to private-sector renters and suggest it will save around £500m a year as part of their deficit-reduction strategy. But it has resulted in protests with critics claiming the cuts imposed have led to some disabled people in Scotland going without basic essentials such as food, heating and clothes.

A Special Rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. There has been controversy over the visit. An official press release from the UN states Ms Rolnik “…visits the country at the invitation of the government.” But reports in the Daily Mail allege she “invited herself” and claim previous UN officials have travelled to the UK to “lecture the government before.” They claim the UN are “meddlers.” Reports suggest the Con-Dems are furious at the inspection.

Jake Berry, Tory MP for Rossendale and Darwen said: “This rapporteur is a self-professed enemy of home ownership and right to buy, and doesn’t represent the views of Britons who want to get on in life” reports the Daily Mail.

But Ms Rolnik isists her decision to visit the UK was prompted because she thought the UK was experiencing a housing crisis and by concern about the impact of welfare changes on the right to adequate housing.

“There is a housing crisis. This is very clear,” she said. “The aim of the visit is to assess the current situation. Of course the bedroom tax and austerity measures and welfare reform as far as they impact on the right to adequate housing is part of our agenda.”

Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes housing as part of the “right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of himself and of his family”.

She added: “The UK has voiced its commitment to human rights on repeated occasions, and this mission will give me an opportunity to assess in-depth to what extent adequate housing, as one central aspect of the right to an adequate standard of living, is at the core of this commitment.

“The UK faces a unique moment, when the challenge to promote and protect the right to adequate housing for all is on the agenda.

“In doing so, special attention would need to be given to responding to the specific situations of various population groups, in particular low-income households and other marginalised individuals and groups.”

The final report will be presented by Ms Rolnik to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in March.

Comments  

 
#
springster
2013-09-05 15:08

The Bedroom Tax may well prove to be the last straw for traditional Labour voters not yet commited to Yes. That the UN has now stepped in to highlight further this controversial legislation can only help.

Well done Newsnet on getting this out there. Another great wee scoop for your reporter who I have noticed is grabbing some very interesting wee stories.
 
 
#
maisiedotts
2013-09-05 15:42

Best news about the “Bedroom Tax” I’ve heard so far. I had heard murmurs that the UN was watching the UK closely ….. 😀
 
 
#
Jo Bloggs
2013-09-06 08:14

Perhaps the Security Council could discuss action against the Cameron regime for human rights breaches?
 
 
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maisiedotts
2013-09-06 14:20

Quoting Jo Bloggs:

Perhaps the Security Council could discuss action against the Cameron regime for human rights breaches?



Yes I hope so, particularly in the case of the terminally ill and disabled.

On cost alone from the council perspective it cannoy be cost effective when some houses for the disabled have been adapted by councils specifically for the needs of one particular disabled person’s needs (and they vary greatly depending on the condition).

In those circumstances the cost of undoing adaptions already made and adapting another home can’t be cost effective.

 

 
#
michaelkav
2013-09-05 17:32

I am unsure why they did not at least have an exemption for disabled people? Carers, unemployed and students are also badly affected due to particular circumstance. I am not surprised the UN is involved.

Another odd part of this tax is how pensioners and working people with spare rooms (often 2+) in a council home skip it by not claiming benefit. The extra room is just a way to spin the tax as fair but they keep hush about those with plenty extra rooms in social housing paying full rent.

It is all really messed up and full of contradictions! This is truly an epic mistake that I hope boosts the YES vote as this is the tip of the ice berg if we stay in the UK.
 
 
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call me dave
2013-09-05 18:24

Many councils in Scotland have a policy of (asking/suggesting) to the older, often single pensioner that the council house they are in be exchanged for a smaller house.

Help with decorating; flitting and installation of equipment for assisting the infirm are incentives as is the fact that the property being offered is generally upgraded in terms of kitchens / bathrooms electrical condition. etc..

A four or three bedroom council house brought back into the housing stock is a good thing to do.

(Not sure if the right to buy is ended if the said house is brought back into the housing stock?)
Maybe someone with the knowledge can assist.

The tax is a disgrace, but even so, more thought should have gone into it’s implementation.

A YES vote will end it of course in 2014.
 
 
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maisiedotts
2013-09-05 19:17

Quoting call me dave:

Many councils in Scotland have a policy of (asking/suggesting) to the older, often single pensioner that the council house they are in be exchanged for a smaller house.

Help with decorating; flitting and installation of equipment for assisting the infirm are incentives as is the fact that the property being offered is generally upgraded in terms of kitchens / bathrooms electrical condition. etc..



What is so very wrong is that the social upheaval is totally ignored.

Many pensioners have lived beside their neighbours for over 20 years, they rely on people they ‘know’ for all sorts of things, shopping, lifts to appointments etc.

If old folks are uprooted from their support network how will they manage on a day to day basis?

 
 
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call me dave
2013-09-05 22:40

Yes you are correct, obviously a decision would have to include your points.
I don’t think my particular council force the issue, just mentioning that there is a contact made regarding their situation. eg:
My mother (now dead) ended up living in a three bedroom house. Both she and my father could have bought the house under the ‘right to buy’ scheme. Because of their views social, and political, they were against doing it. Good on them!

Spoke to the council officers at house clearing, they were delighted to get the house back into council use.
 

 
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gregalach
2013-09-06 10:47

In all the hoo haa about bedroom tax in social housing, please don’t lose sight of the equally heartbreaking situation facing many of us in private housing, who have become unable to afford our rents through this very same but unnamed tax which was imposed on us a couple of years back. The private version of bedroom tax has only just affected me due to changes in other circumstances in my life and just like people in social housing, I have nowhere smaller to go either. And bear in mind that many private rentals, in spite of the various laws and regulations, are in a much poorer condition than those in social sector – landlords get off with it because any complaints about non-repairs result in either raised rents or termination of tenancy. Its all about poverty and lack of choices, doesn’t matter who the landlord is.
 
 
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call me dave
2013-09-06 11:55

Maybe they will maybe they wont abolish the bedroom tax.
————————————–

labourlist.org/…/…
—————————————–
 
 
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call me dave
2013-09-06 14:37

Labour in confusion….errh! No.
It just keeps on telling lies.

Scottish Labour noncommittal over bedroom tax
scotsman.com/…/…

archive.is/jCK0N
 

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