Tuesday, 1 October sees the six month anniversary of the introduction of the ‘Bedroom Tax’. In this time, Cardiff Council have seen arrears increase by around half a million pounds. It has also seen many people thrown into domestic turmoil, as they find that they are reclassified as being eligible for funding only for a two bedroom properties, although they currently live in three bedroom ones. It is therefore surely a good thing that Ed Miliband has committed his Labour government to get rid of the Bedroom Tax. However, this government policy is only one element of a considered campaign which targets the most vulnerable in our society.

In recent times, this Tory-led and Lib Dem-supported government has passed a swathe of legislation which targets those least able to defend themselves. Four examples are as follows:

  • The introduction of Universal Credit, allegedly to ‘simplify’ the tax system but in fact reducing the total available to recipients.
  • The creation of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which creates a system where those in financial hardship are more likely to fall into arrears as any unauthorised overdraft fees are likely to be deducted before their rent is paid. 
  • The much-documented, and now quite entrenched, ATOS ‘FIT’ assessments of all those on Incapacity Benefit to determine if they are capable of work are regularly overturned by Appeal Tribunals (in volumes that have meant Tribunals sitting on weekends). 
  • Those seeking to take action through an Employment Tribunal if they think they have been wrongfully or unfairly dismissed now have to pay in order to bring a claim. 

There is no doubt in my mind that these policies, although each of them is unpalatable in isolation, must be viewed together. They are a concerted attack on those who have little voice individually. Furthermore, many charities and ‘Third Party Organisations’ feel that the Lobbying Bill will severely restrict their ability to represent the views of these vulnerable people whenever it is 12 months or fewer from a national election. Given that we tend to have an election pretty much every year, this is a cause for significant concern. So congratulations to Miliband on his statement that the Bedroom Tax will be reversed. But this is merely one step that needs to be taken – and he must come out and explain how his Prime Ministership would empower and enable all Britons to achieve their potential.