Bedroom tax breaches UN’s children’s rights
Children’s Commissioner says UN Convention ignored
SCOTLAND’S Children’s Commissioner has warned that the “bedroom tax” breaches young people’s human rights by plunging them into poverty and harming their social, emotional and mental wellbeing.
Tam Baillie said that the Coalition Government’s welfare reforms, would “heap misery on families already struggling on the breadline”.
The commissioner is just the latest public figure to enter the fray as growing condemnation for the proposals gather in Scotland.
Baillie said the tax is in breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and was another example of children’s rights being ignored.
“While the bedroom tax and other proposed benefit changes are the immediate threat, the longer term challenge is the complacency with which we tolerate one in five children in Scotland living in poverty,” he said.
The child poverty rate in Scotland, and across the UK, makes a mockery of our international obligations under the UNCRC. Myself and the other Children’s Commissioners will be holding the UK government to account in our reporting to the UN Committee.”
His intervention came after it emerged that there is not enough one-bedroom social housing stock in Scotland to cover all the country’s one-bedroom households.
Citizens Advice Scotland using Scottish Government analysis say that while 60% of tenants need a one-bedroom property to avoid under occupying their home, only 26% of occupied social rented properties have one bedroom.
It warns that people living in rural communities in particular faced having to move away from family and friends as a result of the new tax.
“There is a mismatch between need and supply of one-bedroom properties, with the result being that many of those affected will not be able to find alternative accommodation,” CAS said.
Of the 105,000 households affected by the under occupation penalty, 83,000 report an adult in the household with a recognised disability.
“The proposed changes will therefore have a disproportionate impact on people with disabilities in Scotland,” said CAS.
“There are limited exemptions for those with disabilities – including those who require an overnight carer – but the majority will still be affected.”
The Scottish Government said the tax will increase inequalities across Scotland and hit the country’s most vulnerable citizens.
A spokesman said: “We have already strengthened the protection for tenants against eviction for rent arrears, in advance of the introduction of the bedroom tax.
“We brought pre-action requirements for rent arrears into force to ensure proceedings for eviction is always the last resort.
“The Scottish Government is providing an extra £2.5 million to social landlords to ensure there is support on hand for people who will lose housing benefit due to the under occupancy measures and other housing benefit cuts being introduced by Westminster from this month.”
Meanwhile, Scottish welfare minister Margaret Burgess has written to Lord Freud, the Westminster welfare minister, demanding Scotland gets its “fair share” of Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) funding.
According to the Scottish government, Scotland and London have the same number of households to be hit by the bedroom tax, but Freud is set to award London with £56.5m in DHP compared to only £10m in Scotland.
“The small levels of DHP in Scotland is woefully inadequate and unfair to deal with the impact and scale of this policy,” said Burgess.