UN investigator Raquel Rolnik calls for Government's 'bedroom tax' to be axed

Raquel Rolnik, a former urban planning minister in Brazil, visited council estates, food banks and homelessness crisis centres in various parts of the UK

Ian Johnston
Wednesday 11 September 2013 13:10
Comments

A United Nations special investigator called yesterday for the new 'bedroom tax' to be abolished, after hearing it was pushing some of the most vulnerable people in Britain to the point of despair and even suicide.

Raquel Rolnik, the UN special rapporteur on housing and a former urban planning minister in Brazil, visited council estates, food banks and homelessness crisis centres in various parts of the UK including London, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Belfast.

She said she was “very shocked” at the effect of the spare room subsidy, or bedroom tax as opponents have described it.

Under the Government's welfare reform, social tenants deemed to have more bedrooms than they need have had their housing benefit reduced since April. Ministers suggest it will save around £500 million annually as part of the deficit-reduction strategy.

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 well-being of himself and of his family”.

In an interview with The Guardian, Rolnik said “the most vulnerable, the most fragile, the people who are on the fringes of coping with everyday life” were being hit hard by the policy.

“My immediate recommendation is that the bedroom tax is abolished,” she said.

“I was very shocked to hear how people really feel abused in their human rights by this decision and why - being so vulnerable - they should pay for the cost of the economic downturn, which was brought about by the financial crisis.

"People in testimonies were crying, saying 'I have nowhere to go', 'I will commit suicide'".

Rolnik said the UK had "much to be proud of in the provision of affordable housing" but it was ”going backwards in the protection and promotion of the human right to housing“.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said it was ”surprising to see these conclusions being drawn from anecdotal evidence and conversations after a handful of meetings - instead of actual hard research and data“.

"Britain has a very strong housing safety net and even after our necessary reforms we continue to pay over 80 per cent of most claimants' rent if they are affected by the ending of the spare room subsidy," the spokesman added.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in