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Aug 15 2013

Thaya says: ‘Bedroom Tax’ Sees Rent Arrears up 49%

thaya_idaikkadarThe court verdict which occurred on the 30th July 2013 means that the Tory-Lib Dem Government has been, unfortunately, successful in bulldozing through its discrimination against vulnerable people.  Interestingly, the ruling was not on whether the “Bedroom Tax” discriminated against disabled people, in fact the judge clearly felt that it did discriminate against disabled children but whether this discrimination was “justifiable” and whether the discrimination was mitigated for.

The Government won the argument in passing their financial and bureaucratic discriminatory nightmare to Local Authorities (LAs), in the form of so called Discretionary Housing Payments, a temporary limited amount, which will soon run out and is completely inadequate to cover the needs of all people with disabilities affected by the policy.  LAs are already under serious cosh due to unprecedented cuts by the Government in their funding as well as demographic pressures.

This is a subject close to my heart and yet I have to balance the contrasting demands of sound financial budget for our residents and looking after the most vulnerable. It is hard work and not to be taken lightly as it was evident at the last Cabinet meeting.

In case of Harrow, we are well on our way to meet £75m worth of efficiency savings by 2014, with a further challenge of £30m savings by 2017, and probably a lot more, as further Government cuts loom. Our situation is exacerbated by one of the lowest grant funding to Harrow from successive Tory and Labour Governments. This cannot carry on unabated with LAs and vulnerable people being the specific target of the Government’s unrestrained cuts.

This is about real people and according to one national Housing Association, in the first 100 days of the “Bedroom Tax”, the number of affected residents who have fallen behind on their rent has increased 49%.  I can’t understand why the Tory-Lib Dem Government thinks that disabled adults with the same needs as children don’t have the same protection. The transition from disabled child to adult, when they reach 16, has been made even more difficult.

However, this is not enough.  Independent Labour Group (ILG) feels that it is the role of House of Lords and not the Judge to rule on Government policy, unless it is manifestly without reasonable foundation. However, in this case cross party House of Lords demanded 11 amendments to policies within the Welfare Reform Act. But our beloved Government – without any mandate – overturned every last amendment using an archaic 16th century law called “Financial Privilege”. This is probably one of the worst cases of manipulating the ‘selective’ law and system to your advantage in recent memory.

I am all for providing value for money to tax payers, common sense and changing ways in austere times as well as finding innovative solutions but mitigating discrimination against disabled and vulnerable without any accountability, checks or mandate? What kind of society are we living in?

Yours sincerely

Cllr Thaya Idaikkadar, Roxeth Ward
Leader – Independent Labour Group (ILG), and Harrow Council.

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