UN criticisms of bedroom tax are “a disgrace” says Tory Party chairmanCurrent affairs
This morning Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps reacted angrily to UN special investigator Raquel Rolnik’s criticism of the housing policy introduced in April, which sees council tenants’ housing benefit cut if they have what is deemed to be a “spare room”.
Shapps, speaking in an interview with the BBC, said: “It’s an absolutely biased one-sided report, I’m seriously concerned about how that report was commissioned in the first place, why the Government wasn’t involved.”
However, Rolnik insisted she had been invited by the Government to conduct the report as part of her role at the UN to monitor the right to adequate housing globally. Rolnik came on a two-week fact finding mission, after which she concluded “we have a danger of retrogression in the right to adequate housing in the United Kingdom and part of it has to do with the welfare reform which is tackling very vulnerable people”.
She said she heard “dramatic testimonies” from people with disabilities and that the policy was designed “without the human component in mind”.
Shapps was highly critical of the fact that Rolnik had apparently “not once met with a minister or even the department responsible for the policy,” and went on the offensive, saying the manner in which the report had been carried out “damages [the] credibility” of the UN.
However, it may be Shapps’ own credibility that is most greatly damaged, when it was later confirmed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that Rolnik had in fact had a meeting with a senior official at the DWP, and that a further meeting involving Communities and Local Government secretary Eric Pickles had taken place.
Rolnik’s findings came less than a week after official figures showed an increase of 32% in the number of households becoming homeless compared to the same period the year before.
Leslie Morphy, chief executive of homeless charity, Crisis, said: “Thousands are becoming homeless because their housing benefit is no longer enough for them to be able to pay the rent”.