UN bedroom tax report reveals truth about Tories

The facts: United Nations special investigator Raquel Rolnik has been criticised by Grant Shapps because she has refused to allow the government to influence her report on how the Bedroom Tax has inflicted misery on families across the UK.

The facts: United Nations special investigator Raquel Rolnik has been criticised by Grant Shapps because she has refused to allow the government to influence her report on how the Bedroom Tax has inflicted misery on families across the UK. (Picture: Daily Mirror)

What a spoilt little brat Grant Shapps has shown himself to be.

After the United Nations’ special investigator on housing told the Coalition government it should scrap the bedroom tax, describing the policy’s effect on vulnerable citizens as “shocking”, he threw a hissy fit.

He claimed that Raquel Rolnik had been biased from the start and had not met any ministers or officials, and said he would be writing to protest to the UN secretary general.

Why would an investigator, who has come to this country to see for herself the actual effect of a government policy, waste any time listening to ministers who want to overwrite her report with their own agenda?

Ms Rolnik is perfectly capable of accessing the reams of material that has already been written by the government about the bedroom tax – or spare room subsidy, as Mr Shapps (if that’s what he’s calling himself today) still insists on describing it.

She wanted to find out what it actually means to people it affects. And she did find out, didn’t she?

“My immediate recommendation is that the bedroom tax is abolished,” she said.

“I was very shocked to hear how people really feel abused in their human rights by this decision and why – being so vulnerable – they should pay for the cost of the economic downturn, which was brought about by the financial crisis. People in testimonies were crying, saying ‘I have nowhere to go’, ‘I will commit suicide’,” she told The Guardian.

Ms Rolnik told the newspaper she was “disturbed by the extent of unhappiness caused by the bedroom tax and struck by how heavily this policy was affecting ‘the most vulnerable, the most fragile, the people who are on the fringes of coping with everyday life’.”

She said that the bedroom tax should be scrapped and rapped the Coalition for damaging the UK’s record on human rights by allowing it onto the statute books. She said the UK’s previous good record was being eroded by a failure to provide enough social housing.

And she said the government’s regressive changes to social security were forcing the poorest in the country to suffer extreme hardship, just to keep a roof over their heads. The country was “going backwards in the protection and promotion of the human right to housing“.

“It’s so clear that the government didn’t really assess the impact on lives when it took this decision. The mechanism that they have in place to mitigate it – the discretionary payment that they provide the councils with – it doesn’t solve anything, it’s for just a couple of months, and the councils cannot count on that on a permanent basis.

“They don’t know if it’s going to be available next year, so it’s useless,” she said.

The UN investigator spoke to dozens of council house tenants during a two-week visit in which she travelled to Belfast, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, visiting council estates, food banks, homelessness crisis centres, traveller sites and housing association developments. And she has received correspondence about the situation from people across the country.

The bedroom tax could constitute a violation of the human right to adequate housing in several ways, she said – for example, if the extra payments forced tenants to cut down on their spending on food or heating their home.

She said her conclusions should carry weight in British courts, where legal challenges to the bedroom tax are under way. “It depends on how much the judiciary here takes into account the international legislation. In principle they should because the UK has signed and ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,” she said, referring to the document which defines adequate housing as a human right.

This blog could not be more delighted by Ms Rolnik’s findings – even though that may seem a strange thing to say about such universally negative results. They vindicate everything that has been said here since August last year, and provide solid support to all the evidence sent by our good friend Samuel Miller, who has been providing evidence on this matter – and others – to the UN for a considerable time.

Mr Shapps has taken a different view – one that he managed to undermine personally by saying that Ms Rolnik had not been invited by ministers. According to the Daily Record, “It was the Tory-led Government who gave the Brazilian housing and architecture academic permission to carry out the study.” Shapps now denies this, but he is a well-known and long-since-exposed habitual liar, of course.

“It is completely wrong and an abuse of the process for somebody to come over, to fail to meet with government ministers, to fail to meet with the department responsible, to produce a press release two weeks after coming, even though the report is not due out until next spring, and even to fail to refer to the policy properly throughout the report,” he said.

Some might say the Tories would know all about abusing process, considering the way they pushed a retrospective law through Parliament after their government was found to be breaking the rules on Workfare/The Work Programme – or indeed with the so-called Transparency of Lobbying Bill today.

And is publication of a preliminary report not established practice in matters such as this?

As for whether it is improper to refer to the policy as a bedroom tax rather than a spare-room subsidy, let’s repeat the challenge: Would anybody connected to the government please indicate which piece of legislation enshrined a subsidy on spare rooms in law?

Any takers?

Didn’t think so.

39 thoughts on “UN bedroom tax report reveals truth about Tories

  1. Nick

    i have a contact at the UN who i keep updated about the welfare reform deaths who then keeps Ms Rolnik in the loop
    she does not need to speak to any minister as the facts provided to her are more then adequate for her needs to do her work without and hindrance from the likes of Grant Shapps WHO KNOWS NOTHING ABOUT WELFARE REFORM DEATHS

    1. Tony

      Thank you for what you said –

      The biggest hurdle the government has right now is convincing the truly disabled that the bedroom subsidy is right. Lets say you are on a panel who makes that decision – and you agree to a short term subsidy for a disabled person. Wonderful – thanks !!

      Why did you decide to agree? Is this person going to be miraculously struck by lightening = then suddenly recover over night and fling his arms around you – do you expect him to say – wow – what a jump – no more wheelchair.

      I think not.

      So the grounds for deciding – is what plagues the old grey beans fluttering inside my cranium – and prods, on occasion, what little intelligence I possess.

      If this is all about money, then it is just a crazy degrading exercise bound by bullying techniques of the past – meaning – Look – we gave him time to strap himself in – we told him where to find the information on how to paddle – so what reason has he not to swim? Anyone heard of weight – strength – current – direction – oh, no – there I go again, getting tetchy … sorry guys – Gills might be handy though – that is where they are at.

      I’m afraid – this is just another case of human nature friends – without laws to stop these fools – it will always continue – and we all know that.

      This just a tester – if its accepted – find – but more will ensue. Raquel Rolnik knows that. That’s why she spoke about Human Rights – trouble there is – what Human Rights girl – disable people are ignored in the UK – So what makes you think we have any rights?

      If you really have a contact in the UN – can you get a message to Raquel? Tell her I’m proud that she stood up and told world of our plight .

      1. Nick

        at the end of the day most social housing stock is of poor quality on the outside and not even fit for the private market

        those who have paid there rent for years from their work should have always been exempt from the bedroom tax

        Anyone in a property with a bad outside or in high rise should also be exempt

        There is a case however for those who don’t pay their rent and never have as they don’t work and live in a good property they are the ones that the government should target because that shows a little disrespect to the tax payer and any decent person would except that finding and make provision for trading down so that a larger family could move in

        In most cases however there are no smaller properties to trade down to and if this is the case then these people should also be exempt and not punished so they end up killing themselves

        at the end of the day a little common sense is all that’s needed

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  3. Shaun

    At last, someone in power with common sense who can speak up for the people. I fear the government will refuse to abolish the bedroom tax, so what can the UN do then? Everything the Tory government has done is to rob money from the poor, and give to the rich. That is what the Tories have always stood for.

  4. Chris Tandy

    I assume the report by Ms Rolnik will advise, as all UN missions do, of ‘putting the weapons of mass destruction out of reach’…..
    …will that involve burying Duncan Smith in the Jordanian Desert?

  5. Dick Clark

    No part of Housing Benefit was ever considered a ‘subsidy’ before the introduction of this policy, a policy which is, pure and simple, a tax on poverty.

  6. Spoonydoc

    It is far worse than this. Shapps’s claims that she did not meet ministers or the correct departments including the DWP are incorrect.

    Following his outburst Ms Rolnik has had to release a statement clarifying this in which she says she “met officials from the Department for Work and Pensions, and the Communities and Local Government department during her visit, as well as brief personal meetings Minister for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles, and communities minister Don Foster.” She also reiterates that “This was an official visit- I was invited by the UK government and it was organised by the UK government.”

    Her full report is also available for all to see. The list of government departments and officials she met is on page 1.

    “I have had the opportunity to meet with numerous Government officials, including some Ministers. In England I met with the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Department of Work and Pensions, the Homes and Communities Agency, the Department for International Development and the Manchester City Council. I also met with officials from the Department of Housing and Regeneration from the Welsh Government.”

    It would seem Shapps is on very dodgy ground.

  7. Florence

    One man’s “anecdotal” is another women’s “personal testimonies”. Along with the information gleaned from meeting with ministers, and other officials, etc.

    I will be looking forward to the full report (March 2014) to see if she has noticed the REMOVAL of the requirement for equalities checking of all / any legislation by the ConDems

    Also I want to see some of the Cleggy appendages being grilled too, and if any of them at all still think it’s a good deal being part of the first rogue state in this land.

  8. ellen jeremiah

    thank god that someone out there can actually help us, we have no properties to downsize, not even caravans, cant afford a tent cos all money going on bedroom tax,

  9. dr denzil

    This policy is the work of some dick who when confronted by the problems caused by the scandalous lack of decent public housing suggested packing more people into the existing housing stock using a financial stick…..fine if you working with figures, bloody nightmare if it involves actual human beings. like first world war general these pricks don’t mind sacrificing troops as long as they take their objective (and it goes down well with daily mail readers)!

  10. Steve Fitton

    Schapps is just another gov. stooge. Full of bluster and vacuos air speak. He’s only making a noise because he wasn’t invited to meet Ms Rolnik. What a very petulant little boy. If we all had the houses to move down to then most would take the oppourtunity to move and save money. But no, this money grubbing lot serve them selves from a never ending money trough.Intentionally forget that there are no smaller houses to move into and have the audasity to blame those on benifits.

    Because it’s those on benifits that cause the problem!!! Not forgetting that Thatcher started the problem by letting everyone in “social housing” buy the stock up. Well thought out. Where did the money go? Not on more “social housing” Not one gov since has thought of long term needs of housing. Labour just let every one in as we have recently found out….to late again. They need housing. Did labour expect these immigrants to just live in tents??? No of course not just move the indigenous English down the list for later thought. Mmmmm wonder when they will remember?
    There has been no continuous building of houses by any gov. since the great sell off. When will those in Parliament get it into thier thick skulls that as a Country we need more housing.
    Stop squandering tax payers money over seas in frivolous payments called Aid. Many countries do not need it. The amount of Aid spent should be used over here to build houses, well come on “they all” want to live hear sowhy not accomodate them??? Tounge in cheek of course.

    1. Graham Jennings

      I am just wondering how many houses could be built with the money the Govt want to spend on HS2, and how many jobs building those houses would create…

  11. Alex Casale

    A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said it was ”surprising to see these conclusions being drawn from anecdotal evidence and conversations after a handful of meetings – instead of actual hard research and data“.
    “Britain has a very strong housing safety net and even after our necessary reforms we continue to pay over 80 per cent of most claimants’ rent if they are affected by the ending of the spare room subsidy,” the spokesman added.

    1. Adam Clifford

      It is amazing to hear government departments sounding like a branch of the tory party.I may be wrong,but I thought government departments were not supposed to be political.I mean the department of Health/education.Works and Pensions cannot be sacked when a different party gets elected.They cannot espouse party politics which would create serious conflict of interests,I imagine.I’ve heard the DoH sounding like the tories,and now this DWP spokesperson is defending a tory policy.More political rubbish.How did he know that Ms Rolnik has not been researching the hard copy,hard evidence?Maybe he/she is assuming she’s as sloppy as the politicians he works for,or maybe using that tried and trusted tory strategy to cast aspersions on anybody and anything to discredit what they don’t like/failed policy.

  12. Rose-Marie Mcginn

    Guided that Obama is Himmler Reincarnated and David Cameron is Goebbels Reincarnated – head of nazi propaganda. All the nazis reincarnated and are doing the same again by targeting sick and disabled and saying they are fit to work and stopping them benefits – happening in UK with Atos assessing people. Protect the vulnerable – join facebook pages Atos miracles and the people verus the Government, DWP and Atos to see whats going on.

  13. Steve Woodward

    This benighted government will be remembered for the proliferation of food banks along with this shameful little piece of vindictive “reform”. Who would credit the fact the UK is still one of the richest countries in the world?

  14. Mick Ruhland

    Did anyone else think that the Tax Payers Alliance “report” coming out on the same day that IDS was due in front of a Commons Select Committee was a “coincidence”?
    Did you see the “survey” results in your local rag yesterday? About “people” feeling less sympathetic towards the “unemployed”?
    This UN preliminary report has “spun them out”. Not even the MSM (Main Stream Media) could ignore this.
    They’re scared. They should be.

  15. beastrabban

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    In this article, published on Mike’s blog before his post on the Commissioner’s report, Mike comments on the Tories’ rage at the UN Commissioner’s attack on the Bedroom Tax. Using the text of the report itself, Mike refutes Shapps’ criticisms., exposing them for the lies they are, and the petulance and hypocrisy that lies underneath them.

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  17. davidmortimermiltonkeynes

    Dave Mortimer questioned the ‘best interest’ principal in the Family Court that means a judge will not question what a mother says. John Dunworth responded by saying that there is no control over the Family Court judges and some are “bloody barking mad”. Dave continued to say that domestic violence is a criminal offence and should be heard in the Magistrates Court because it required a burden of proof.


    Presumed guilty of domestic violence on a balance of probability


    Milton Keynes county court has referred 1 case of perjury to the police in the last 5 years 19th February 2013


    We have got to take action to turn troubled families around… We’ve also got to change completely the way government interacts with them; the way the state intervenes in their lives… We need to provide leadership at the top, action in local authorities and results on the ground.

    Rt Hon David Cameron.

    So-called ‘troubled families’ are estimated to cost government approximately £9 billion every year (an average of £75,000 per family), £8 billion of which is reactive spending, leaving only one ninth (or 11 per cent) which focuses on prevention.

    The programme invests £448 million in local authorities (up to £4,000 per family – 40 per cent of the estimated cost, with local authorities having to find the other 60 per cent), mostly on a payment-by-results basis, and runs from 2012 to the end of this Parliament in 2015.




    On 17th October 2004 the Conservative Shadow Secretary of State for the Family, Theresa May, pledged to end the misery of the family courts. Unveiling a strategy for institutional change.

    “We Conservatives recognise what the experts and common sense have always told us: that the best parent is both parents. It is time for a family court system that protects children and respects parents.

    Children who go through divorce – 146,914 of them in 2001 – have already lost out. We must not add to their distress with a court system that means they forfeit one of their parents as well. Under the next government, there will not be another generation of parents without children, and children without parents. Everyone – including the lawyers – accepts the time for change is overdue.”


    Join us so we can demand real change & redress.

  18. garyxxx

    The bedroom tax was always going to lose money, split families, cause hardship, poverty, homelessness and kill; the only thing most people are ignorant of – its actually costing the tax payer £millions. It has not saved a penny yet. They asked her [Raquel Rolnik] to do the report and now they condemn it – why? because she was not and would not be influenced by their evil policy, which she rightfully found to break peoples human rights – and now with overwhelming public support she is looking into Atos – so give her your account of what wrongly happed to you – I hope she has a few years to read them all lol – Good luck to Raquel Rolnik our people’s saver from the UN.

  19. Claire Lambert

    We need another oliver Cromwell.. but we all know that’s never going to happen this country as gone to the dogs.. GB (used to be known as).. GREAT BRITAIN.. GB (now is known as).. GONE BROKE..

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