Why the bedroom tax is a very bad idea
People who live in government houses know all about the bedroom tax. Put it simply, those who have extra bedrooms are going to be hit with a bedroom tax of $20 per week for single tenants and $30 per week for couples.
The aim of this policy is to force people out of their home (should they have one or two extra bedrooms) and move them into houses with the right number of bedrooms: one bedroom for one tenant or two bedrooms for two tenants, and so on.
This idea sounds very good and certainly a good way to put more people, currently on waiting list, into houses. And it is certain that if the government housing situation was an ideal one this would be a great idea. But let’s look at the real and serious problems.
Government houses, statistically speaking, have a lot of anti social behaviour. As a person who helps many people, on the internet, supported by two psychologists and one psychiatrist, I know that there are huge problems in government houses to do with violence, alcoholism, and anti social behaviour and here in Australia we see it very frequently on TV.
Here is a possible scenario: a couple of older tenants, one with a mental disability, are moved out of their three bedroom house, a house in which, hypothetically speaking, they have lived for over thirty years. Hypothetically speaking, this older couple may have grandchildren who come to stay there and sometime sleep in the spare extra bedroom because their parents work shift-work. They are relocated to another house with less bedrooms that is ideally supposed to be better for their needs.
They may be moved in an unsuitable area were alcoholics and drug addicts may have loud music all night, terrify neighbours, and cause a lot of health problems for the vulnerable and elderly couple. I have experience of such a place because my wife and I have lived in one for many years.
According to the many people whom I help on the internet, as a kind of therapist, given my extensive experience and knowledge with sociology, anthropology and psychology, I can say that many people are very troubled and no one can help them not even the police. Many are in physical danger and live with very troubled people who are often on drugs or are violent alcoholics.
Indeed, this is the real problem, that because of this bedroom tax introduced in a hurry, the quality of many people’s lives may take a turn for the worst. For no government official, Member of Parliament, or politician, can guarantee anything. This is the real danger when people move out of one government house and into another.And this is the fear of many people, including me, who live in a government house.
Most people who live in government houses know this and will rather pay the extra $20 or $30, possibly going without vital medication, food or some other important thing in their life, just to ensure that they are not exposed to the bullies who may be drug addicts or alcoholics and which are abundant in government houses.
This is happening now in New South Wales, people with disabilities and mental illness are being relocated, or forced to relocate, and their future is uncertain. If their lucky stars work for them, then they may end up in a good place that is peaceful where they can continue to live their life. If they end up in a bad complex or a house, nearby troubled people, then their life will change for the worse.
I think of people with mental illness, disabled people and their carers who are about to be relocated and wonder what will happen if they are relocated in a troublesome spot. Statistics indicate that a very high percentage of government houses in Australia, especially complexes, are very troubled places.
I feel that this bedroom tax could end up costing a lot more if by accident we introduce troublemakers in perfectly peaceful suburbs or move good people into troublesome areas. If that happens, demand for services like ambulance, police and the help of social workers and government official increases. This can translate in huge costs to the government. It may translate in more paperwork, more visits to the member of parliament and more trouble all around.
The idea of a bedroom tax is not a very good one. First of all vulnerable people should not be charged any money. If they are to be moved they should be helped in such a way to ensure that their standard of living is not affected and that they will resume their normal life. Can the government give this guarantee? I am afraid that it cannot be done and this is the plain truth. There is no guarantee and to this day it remains a risk.
To move people into more suitable places takes time and this policy seems to be very rushed. I will keep the readers informed and let you know how things develop in the coming months.
I urge mental health organisation to monitor people with mental disabilities and their caregivers to help them in case of problem which may rise because of being relocated. Usually, organisations like Beyondblue, The Black Dog Institute, and SANE, will tell you that they cannot help directly.I wonderr if there are organisations that can help directly because this is what we desperately need.
They simply do not have enough resources. But maybe there is something they can do so that for once they can make a real difference in the real life of sufferers. We do not need policies that negatively impact on people with disabilities and their carer because life its already difficult as it is. After all, we do need to take care of people with mental illness especially now that mental health reforms are being introduced in New South Wales. We hope that such reformed are grounded in reality and what people with mental illness really need. I will keep the readers informed.
Some information on the bedroom tax in the UK