Bedroom Tax Evictions have started this week in the United Kingdom. The British Welfare Reform Act of 2012 modified the benefits offered by the British Social Security System. The Welfare Reform Act passed British Parliament on March 8, 2012, and has been controversial since. The new law reduces the amount of benefits paid to claimants, if their homes are under occupied; in other words “they have spare bedrooms.” It is not really a tax, but rather a reduction in benefits, although many Brits see it as a form of taxation.
Rumors had spread among some British citizens that Islamic British residents could designate a room in their home as a place of worship, and avoid the bedroom tax, but the British government made it clear that this reason could not be used to avoid the benefit cut.
Last March, those opposing the bedroom tax protested in the streets. According to rt.com,
In Glasgow, around 2,500 people, including trade unionists and people from disabled groups, packed the city Centre while approximately 1,000 people demonstrated outside Downing Street and Trafalgar square in London. Another thousand descended on the Scottish capital, Edinburgh
The tax either forces you to pay, or to take in a roommate. Either way, there is no way out of paying. If you don’t pay, you get evicted. Earlier this month, a woman named Stephanie Bottril was found dead laying in an expressway, leaving behind a suicide note blaming the government’s new bedroom tax as the reason she did not want to live anymore. According to Metro News,
Her son Steven said she was finding it hard to pay the extra £80-a-month on top of her £320 rent bill after the introduction of the new legislation
The Mirror reported that Angela Buskie, from East Kilbride, and mother of three children, was late in paying £130, and received a letter stating:
If you do not pay, we will take legal action against you. This means you could be evicted from your home. If you are evicted for not paying your rent, we can still collect payments for the money you owe us straight from your wages or your bank.
The British Welfare Reform Act will affect England, Scotland and Wales, and was meant to be introduced slowing starting April 2013. The tax has a benefit cap, and is set at 14 percent for one extra bedroom, and 25 percent for two or more extra bedrooms.
Included in the welfare cap are the following benefits:
- Income support (IS), jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) and employment and support allowance (ESA)
- Child benefit and child tax credits
- guardian’s allowance
- carer’s allowance
- DWP maternity benefits and widows benefits
- severe disablement allowance.