Ian Duncan Smith’s bedroom tax is now damaging our children

Support us and go ad-free

The bedroom tax, enforced by the coalition government and still in place, has been strongly criticised by education experts. The experts have called on the government to rethink the bedroom tax due to the serious consequences it is having on children.

The bedroom tax, officially called the ‘under-occupancy penalty’, is the vernacular term for a cut in housing benefit for council house tenants who are judged to possess a spare room in their home. The benefit cut was designed by the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP), under the remit of Iain Duncan Smith. Thousands of disabled people have been subjected to the bedroom tax, with some being forced to move into smaller, unsuitable houses where, among other inadequacies, they have no choice but to wash in a paddling pool.

Now, it appears the levy is impacting upon children’s learning. Experts from the University of Manchester undertook research over a 16-month period from March 2014, and its findings should shame the government. However, the government does not feel shame very easily, especially the DWP, which has washed its hands of the deaths of nearly 600 people who underwent their strict work capability assessment and later committed suicide due to the stress it brought on.

The university’s report found that some parents were being forced to cut back on basic necessities such as food, heating and clothes, as the bedroom tax has destabilised their precarious finances and pushed them into poverty. One dad said that:

[My] financial situation at the moment is very bleak, very bleak. I have £10 to my name and I have no money till Tuesday, so you can imagine the cupboards are nearly bare … I am just struggling.

There are huge implications if a child is hungry at school. Not only is it damaging to that child’s health due to malnourishment, but the child will have difficulty focusing on their schoolwork. Moreover, many children are becoming increasingly distressed, which in turn affects their learning.

Sadly, some children are all too aware of the difficulties their parents face and are scared to burden their parents with further expense. According to the Guardian, one mother said how her child was freezing because he did not have a coat:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

He was freezing and he was too scared to say to me ‘Mum, I need a coat’ because he didn’t want to put added pressure on me.

Many children have to share their bedrooms with siblings, often of a different age. This means there is a distraction, preventing children from focusing on their homework in a quiet place.

One of the researchers spoke to a housing director and was told:

I saw a young woman yesterday and she has two daughters sharing a bedroom. One is two and one’s 14 and she says it doesn’t work and the two-year-old is in with her because the 14-year-old throws her out. She can’t do her school work.

The professor of education at Manchester University, Ruth Lupton, argued that their depressing findings required action from the government.

The findings of this study confirm a wider picture emerging from research which points to the bedroom tax failing to meet its original aims while contributing to significant hardship among low-income families.

Our study suggests that the pressure put on families by this cut in benefits may also be working contrary to other policies that are intended to support child well-being and educational achievement, diminishing their effectiveness.

It is staggering that the government is allowing the bedroom tax to continue in its current form. All signs are that it has saved very little money (even Tories themselves are complaining about that) while putting many thousands of people into hardship. Future generations are being punished by the government’s commitment to austerity while MPs and bankers, who were to blame for the financial crisis, see their incomes soar.

 

Featured image via Twitter.

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed