The bedroom tax is domestic violence and abuse

At times I have mildly vented my spleen at the bedroom tax. Today I am going the whole hog and with good and informed reason in light of a joke of an article in the Sunday People.

I am also calling for the Chief Executive of Womens Aid to resign over it.  I am also stating that it is time the Labour Party grew a set of balls and also sacked their spokesperson on domestic violence and abuse – and it is telling that I do not even know the name of who that person is!

I have worked with domestic violence and abuse organisations for more than ten years mostly female yet also with the odd male domestic charity so this is not a rant of ignorance and it concerns what is called a sanctuary room.

A sanctuary room is is where a room in an abused home is made a strong room with strong doors and bars on windows for example so if the perpetrator gets into the property the woman and children can lock themselves away….in terror until the police can arrive.

Yet the bedroom tax is charged on such a room!

Does anyone in their right fucking mind think anyone ever sleeps in such a room!  Would you be able to sleep at all in circumstances where your life is in imminent danger?  No of course you would not be able to and so how can a room that is not used for sleeping in be a bedroom and have the bedroom tax applied?

How can it be that a room that is used once in every blue moon be deemed a bedroom?  There dear reader is why the bedroom tax is a back of a fag packet policy in a nutshell.

So what are the Women’s Aid Federation of England (WAFE) doing about this?  Are they advising their members the refuges and other domestic abuse services to support their tenants and clients to appeal the bedroom tax?  Are they lobbying government to take away the bedroom tax from a sanctuary room which is a situation they have known about for at least two years?  No, they are simply moaning about it with a quick comment in today’s Sunday papers…oh and it is Mother’s Day to boot!

Just what the hell does WAFEs chief executive think her role is if not to defend the rights of women victimised and affected by violence and abuse.

Then there is the Labour Party.  If ever there was an issue on which to go big in opposition to the bedroom tax then it is the sanctuary room.  It is outrageous that Her Majesty’s Opposition (giving Labour their official misnomer of a title) who also have had two years and more to highlight the sanctuary room issue and the absurdity that such a room has the bedroom tax levied on it to have stayed silent on this.  They are not ignorant of the issue they are just incompetent and ineffective.

Levying the bedroom tax on a sanctuary would galvanise the entire country and expose just how offensive and ill-conceived the bedroom tax is as a policy.  No one in any rational mind could argue that a sanctuary room is a bedroom for bedroom tax purposes or even the often irrational minds of the likes of IDS and McVey.

This is a gift horse of huge political capital that will acutely embarrass the governments bedroom tax policy yet WAFE and the so-called feminists in the Labour Party are where exactly?  Probably being taken to lunch in some swanky bistro in central London celebrating Mother’s Day while so many more Mother’s are checking the locks on their sanctuary rooms!

I don’t want to be reading academic studies in a few years time when the data is in that the bedroom tax created an increase in domestic violence and abuse.  Yet I will be reading them as that is a direct result of the bedroom tax and the canon of evidence that financial and money problems in a household lead to violence and abuse is voluminous in this area and this is precisely what the bedroom tax does by reducing income into a household.  If I do have to read this my first thoughts will be WAFE and the Labour Party could and should have stopped this and  easily stopped this.

The anti bedroom tax groups across social media and self-serving journalists on the Sunday People who miss the real issues and like to say the Tories have blood on their hands when it comes to the bedroom tax must realise that the Labour Party has too.  So do social landlords and councils who state a sanctuary room is a bedroom.  And while they all dither and miss the real issue the lives of women and children are put at risk by the bedroom tax ineptitude of all of you.  Isn’t it time the real perpetrators of this in the coalition got blamed instead?

Happy Mother’s Dayl!

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28 thoughts on “The bedroom tax is domestic violence and abuse

  1. gandt5658 March 30, 2014 at 12:14 pm Reply

    How right you are joe.
    I have won my appeal in the heart of tory land braintree essex my alleged spare room is used as a study.
    THE JUDGE RULED THAT FOR BEDROOM TAX PURPOSES THE ROOM MUST CONTAIN A BED AND MUST BE USED FOR SLEEPING IN
    This up holds the bolton upper tribunal decision.

    • Debbie Price March 30, 2014 at 1:12 pm Reply

      Hi gandt5658 That is good news for you. Well done for fighting…….. Do you by any chance have your Judgement?? So, it may be used by others, also appealing and going to Tribunals, please.

    • joehalewood March 30, 2014 at 2:25 pm Reply

      Well done you! And the comment by Debbie P above is very valid and we need to publish as many appeal wins as possible. I will happily anonymise your judgment if you care to email a copy to me at welfarewrites@aol.com and your win WILL inspire many others to appeal which I have always said is the best way to challenge this joke of a policy

  2. chideltawithnor March 30, 2014 at 12:48 pm Reply

    Joe theres another form of abuse as well as the increased risk domestic violence and abuse. The financial abuse of both councils and social landlords for classing a sanctuary room is a bedroom.

  3. Debbie Price March 30, 2014 at 1:07 pm Reply

    I wonder how much it costs the Councils to make a panic room?? They expect women and their children to move. So, therefore, also, costing them to make a new panic room, in another property. And, also the cost of converting the property moved from, back to a ‘useable room’. Another waste of money!! ………… Women’s Aid, SHOULD BE heavily involved in campaigning against the Bedroom Tax. As if coping with Domestic violence and abuse, is not devastating enough. Having to find money to pay for rooms. will cause extra stress and depression.. And, yes, if still living with the abuser. Will, surely, incite more violence and abuse. Due to the households finances……… The Mirror states a FOI request was made. And, 281 households, were identified. I suspect this is a very small number. And, the reality is FAR, FAR MORE than that.
    I, myself, was a victim of Domestic violence and abuse. About 25 years plus, ago And had to spend 9 months in a battered wives home, with my young children. Waiting to be rehoused. A ‘safe’ house with bars at the windows. Bullet proof glass, etc. The mental scars never leave you.
    What seems to be overlooked, is the effect, all this has on the children……….
    What about their rights to a family life and counselling??
    Perhaps, there needs to be other agencies/Charities involved??
    To, point these situations out to this, shite government.
    The Bedroom Tax, has far more consequences. And, far more, reaching effects.

    • buagh April 2, 2014 at 1:50 pm Reply

      I agree with you. Northamptonshire County Council made no provision in its 2014-5 budget for Hostels for abused women and their children. Apparently they thought that if they sent out tenders for social care provision without including Hostels, the problem would simply disapear . They don’t want to fund hostels for our most vulnerable people but on the other hand they’ve opened an office in BRUSSELS at a cost of £2 million?

  4. sdbast March 30, 2014 at 1:14 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on sdbast.

  5. jaypot2012 March 30, 2014 at 2:49 pm Reply

    What are labour doing – sweet FA in my opinion! Never have I been so worried about a vote for the party as I know I’m taking a huge chance, I have never felt so unsure.
    As for the bedroom tax, it should have been stopped before it began, it should never have come into effect, we should never have allowed it!
    God help us for being such a huge nation of cowards, we have many who fight, but we have millions that do nothing except complain behind a keyboard.

    • buagh April 2, 2014 at 1:57 pm Reply

      I am a member of the Labour Party but I haven’t got the foggiest clue as to what the LP are doing. But its definately not helping the vulnerable, the disabled or the unemployed so why anyone should vote for them I cannot answer. But you can be sure that if there was ever a world war it would be those paying the bedroom tax that would be called up first to fight long before the tory toffs or the champagne socialists. .

  6. jaypot2012 March 30, 2014 at 2:50 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on Jay's Journal and commented:
    How can they allow this?

  7. Mark Hoskins March 30, 2014 at 2:51 pm Reply

    This bedroom tax is barbaric to people least able to afford to pay. I am extremely concerned about my friend who is being hounded by Devon and Cornwall Housing. They took her to court last year and she was able to agree a repayment plan to the court. Now her discretionary housing payments have stopped she cannot afford to pay the amounts they want from her. She has reapplied for this grant in Feb but is still waiting a decision. Last month the housing wanted £100 off her, this month its £257 by 2nd April or they will be taking her back to court and charging her an extra £110 charges to evict her. How can someone on benefits just have £257 out of thin air.

    My friend is extremely ill and disabled. She is suffering as she cannot pay to have her carer so often as her dla money goes straight to Devon and Cornwall housing. Her daughter helps when she can but she has a young family of her own to deal with.

    This bedroom tax has created a downward spiral for my friend who had enough to deal with being ill and disabled. She is now feeling suicidal and a worthless individual that is completely helpless in getting out of this mess. She is selling her belongings to help pay but it still doesn’t give her the large amounts of money they want from her.

    I believe they are hounding her to her death and I am not being over dramatic. My concern is I will pick up a newspaper and my friend will become another statistic. Before this bedroom tax my friend was always happy and loved her home. Now it feels like a noose round her neck she says.

    How do the politicians sleep at night ??? If anyone has any advice I can give to her I would be most grateful.

    • Debbie Price March 31, 2014 at 10:08 am Reply

      Mark Hoskins. I’m so sorry to hear about your friends situation. You don’t say what size property she is in? There are reasons to appeal. Needing an overnight carer/ Room size/Room usage. Etc. We have an appeal group on facebook. That could help her. She could get an exemption. So, she wouldn’t have to pay.
      Has she been in touch with her MP, about this harassment?? She needs to put in a formal complaint to the head of her council.
      And, they need, naming and shaming!! Joe Halewood

  8. workshyscrounger March 30, 2014 at 3:11 pm Reply

    Is there a reason why the master bedroom cannot be made into a sanctuary room?

    • Florence March 30, 2014 at 8:06 pm Reply

      Would you sleep in a room that cannot be gotten out of in case of fire or emergency, that could not be broken into by rescuers? The current Building Regs also forbid using such a room as a bed room, as all rooms “normally” occupied have to have means of exit in case of fire.

      • Debbie Price March 31, 2014 at 10:13 am

        Hi Florence. Do you have a link to the Housing Regs., you mention please?
        It would help people, as part of their appeals, to be able to ‘quote them’.
        Or, do you know please? Joe Halewood

      • workshyscrounger March 31, 2014 at 1:02 pm

        “The Sanctuary Room, normally the main bedroom, provides a secure place to retreat to and a place from where assistance can be summoned if the victim is under threat.” That’s from a governmental document: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/6015/1697793.pdf. Fire safety is discussed from page 65 onwards.

    • Florence March 31, 2014 at 2:13 pm Reply

      It seems that this may be the case in some circumstances, but there may be reasons why the room is not suitable as a bedroom, when meeting all the regs on fire access, etc. The first is size, and that is covered amply elsewhere. The other is psychological. I would not like to sleep in a room that with the window cover closed would be like a prison cell. Another is the availability of suitable accommodation (location away from the abuser, family needs, disability for example) where there are more rooms that the dreadful tax “allows”. Like any other occupier of homes that were deemed suitable prior to this, and the lack of smaller homes generally for relocation, people have to accept what is offered, ultimately. No-one with any special adaptations should be subject to this tax, even according to the dreadful Lord Fraud, but hey, he has no idea what real life involves.

      the same document also states :-
      “Sanctuary should be available (free of charge) to all households and individuals at risk of domestic violence, regardless of tenure or gender, where the perpetrator is no longer living at the property”. Free of charge, being the main point.

      Again the document states that the risk assessment for the installation of a sanctuary room must (among others) involve the fire brigade. So if a room is deemed suitable for sanctuary, and is not a bedroom, that authority must be considered paramount. The document states that “normally” the sanctuary room can be a bedroom, so also covers the fact that it may not be a bedroom, too.

      In my own circle, I know one woman whose son is the violent person, and she did not want to leave her home, and so then had an empty room. (This was before the bedroom tax, but serves as an illustration.)

      Like so many of the issues raised by the Bedroom Tax, the lives of people affected come in all sizes and shapes. Solutions have to reflect this.

  9. […] The bedroom tax is domestic violence and abuse- SPeye Joe (Welfarewrites) Joe Halewood writes about welfare rights and welfare reform. Pictures displayed by Street Democracy […]

  10. Florence March 30, 2014 at 9:13 pm Reply

    How many women’s deaths will this add to the body count of IDS & co?

    In addition to the bedroom tax, the poorest 670,000 households will now have to pay council tax, some for the first time ever, because of more cuts to Local Authorities. According to the Guardian/ False Economy:-

    “An estimated 675,000 working-age households will see bills rise by an average of £127 a year, amounting to £234 on an average band D property.,,,,,,,,,,,Hilary Benn, Labour’s spokesman on local government, said the government’s removal of the extra funding would mean “a further rise in council tax for people on the lowest incomes, including carers, single mums and the disabled. So while the prime minister goes around claiming that council tax has been frozen, it is the very poorest people in society who will be forced to pay more”.

    So one assumes this will also hit those with Sanctuary Rooms and make the initial step of leaving an abuser even harder, financially.

  11. samedifference1 March 31, 2014 at 12:26 am Reply

    Reblogged this on Same Difference and commented:
    At first glance, this doesn’t look like a disability issue.
    However I have to wonder- how many disabled women need these ‘sanctuary rooms?’ How many mothers of disabled children need these ‘sanctuary rooms?’ Of course there could also be disabled men, or fathers of disabled children, in need of such spaces. But the post below was written on Mother’s Day yesterday and so was written with women in mind.

  12. Pam Sampson March 31, 2014 at 1:20 am Reply

    Mark – as your friend needs some overnight care she should have an exemption on one bedroom for this purpose. Please get her to appeal the bedroom tax.

  13. mey151 March 31, 2014 at 11:19 am Reply

    the way i see it, when all campaign groups come together and go en mass to downing street or westminster and they out number the total police population of the uk and immediately put down any cops that try to start aggro then things may change,

    there are to many small groups out there at present all campaigning about different things but all with the same objective to defeat this corrupt and oppressive government,

    i believe that it will be no good voting labour next time has they are being very quite about things, no doubt this will change in 2015 when they want our vote, im begining to think that we need to vote for one of the non existent parties and see where it goes ie the greenparty,

    would be interesting to hear from anyone that can flesh this out a bit more

    • buagh April 2, 2014 at 1:32 pm Reply

      I tend to agree with your analysis. I’m a long time labour party member but as they just agree with tory policies , it doesn’t make any sense to vote for them. However the tories will have to go, they have attacked and demonised the disabled and the unemployed with draconian legislation. The problem is in not being able to vote for any party that protects the most vulnerable people. The police will do anything to break up demonstrations and I do mean anything so the public especially the disabled and vulnerable must not face them head on. Also beware extreme political groups joining a demo as they like having a go at the police. I hope other people will join in this topic and I look forward to reading other thoughts and ideas.

      • mey151 April 2, 2014 at 1:45 pm

        @Buagh i to vote labour but im now worried about doing so , i believe ukip want to privatise the NHS , and any vote for a lesser party will basically be a wasted vote and we well almost certainly be in the same situation of a hung parliament ie the shower we have now stay where they are (heaven forbid)

        extremists are of course a problem in any demo but what im saying is to hell with the cops a taste of there own wouldnt hurt them (or maybe it would) its now overdue for people to make a stand has they did back in the days of maggie and the polll tax, im not advocating violence in any form but what was was, what is is, what will be will be.

        and i have no doubt when the planets align right all hell is going to break lose in more than one country

  14. nosparerooms April 1, 2014 at 5:19 pm Reply

    @ Joe – Off Topic. I have just phoned my council benefits offices asking them for an Appeal Form to make a formal appeal against this year’s council tax decision which was made on 20th March which means I have only until 20th April for them to receive completed form as there are no late appeal reasons this time that I can think of so far. Anyway, when I phoned the office today, just as when I phoned about a month ago for an appeal form to appeal last years decision, the lady I spoke to didn’t know initially what I was talking about. I then pointed out that I had first of all sent a letter asking to them review it, they had then written and told me it was perfectly in order and they weren’t changing the decision, then I had asked for and they had sent me out the proper form (it doesn’t have a reference number with Argyll & Bute Council, it is just “the appeal form to appeal against housing benefit and council tax benefit decisions”). She then checked her system and told me my formal appeal is still being processed, and said the form she would be sending me wasn’t really an appeal form against housing benefit decisions. I then said “Well, the accompanying leaflet does say “How To Appeal Against A Decision on Your Housing or Council Tax Benefit”, and the form to do so is enclosed with it, therefore I take it it is the correct form.” She then said she would send it out, and that I should get it by the end of the week.
    She told me my appeal against last year’s decision is still “being processed”.
    Anyway, what I am really wanting to ask is if I am correct in thinking that the appeal this year on room size cannot be considered as they changed bedroom definition to single room before this year’s decision, and that I can only appeal on room usage this year?

    • jonscone April 1, 2014 at 8:04 pm Reply

      I was under the impression that to make an appeal against Council Tax, you have to appeal to the Valuations Tribunal (even if it’s not a Council Tax Band valuation that you’re appealing against)

      I thought you could still appeal using any relevant facts, either room size and / or usage?

      • nosparerooms April 2, 2014 at 11:18 pm

        @ jonscone – the form they sent me had accompanying notes stating that the form was for either housing benefit or council tax appeals, and that it was to be handed in at their local council office or sent to their head office. I sent it to their head office by recorded delivery marking on it “Housing Benefit Appeals”. I will just appeal my housing benefit decision for this year on the grounds of both room size and usage as I did last time (still not had an outcome for last year’s decision – they received the form 3 weeks ago and are still “processing it”). It is better to appeal on both grounds and the worst they can say is no in either case.

  15. mey151 April 1, 2014 at 11:23 pm Reply

    there are many groups fighting for this and that but all with the same end, to put a stop to something this government has done, if they all came together and mass demonstrated then maybe something would give, after all im sure the total numbers in groups will out number the corrupt coppers that would be policing it,making them think twice about causing aggro which seems to be their normal practice now, until everyone bands together and makes a stand against this corruption nothing will change

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