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Bedroom tax and unintentional homelessness – Zahawi’s false assurance

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Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi was drafted in by the Government the other day to defend the bedroom tax on Newsnight. He tried to look confident but it was a hesitant performance for this normally gung-ho fellow. He was responding to news that half of housing association tenants may now be in arrears as a result of the bedroom tax (under-occupancy charge), according to David Orr, chairman of the National Housing Federation.

Zahawi seemed particularly rattled when Emily Maitlis asked if this was to be the pattern for the long term: “Lots more people defaulting and you will have to bail them out and so on?”

Zahawi said: “That should not be … It is not the purpose of this policy. It’s not to make people … For example if they find themselves homeless they will not be classed as intentionally homeless by this policy. That has been put on record by government ministers in the House of Commons. It is not about us making life difficult for people; it’s about living within our means.”

The gaps indicated by ellipses are his – an inability to quite bring himself to assert confidently, “It is not the purpose of this policy to make people homeless.” Read the rest of this entry

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