We’re People, Not Chess Pieces

It appears that the government has forgotten the simple fact that it is running a country of people not chess pieces. The new “Spare Bedroom Tax” shows us this clearly. If you are renting somewhere with what the government decides has too many bedrooms, you will be forced to move. However, it is likely that you may be relocated to the other side of the borough, other side of the city or even outside the city you live in so you have the “right” number of bedrooms for your family.

The spare bedroom tax is a completely absurd solution for an extremely complex problem. The government has the simplistic idea that if there is a small family living in a large council house, and a large family living in a small privately rented house, then by juggling the two families everything will be ok. But that’s not how life works. There frankly aren’t enough houses with the “right” number of rooms per family as so many one bedroom flats have been built, instead of larger houses for larger families.

This ridiculous tax has already started effecting people in my school. “A”, a girl in my year will have to move as her family’s house is “under populated”. Earlier this school year, A moved from her two bedroom house with her two elder sisters, her younger brother and her mum, to a four bedroom house which was 10 minutes away from their old house. They were able to stay living close by to other family members, the school A and her brother go to and the rest of the community. However, as one of the older sisters is getting married soon and the other sister has gone to Somalia to live with their grandma, there are now three people living in a four bedroom house. Therefore, the council has to move them. They have no choice where they will now go to live. If they are lucky, they will be able to still live in Tower Hamlets. If not they may be moved to another borough in East London, meaning a long commute to school for A, or moved to a completely different part of London. It is less than 6 months since they moved from a house that was deemed to be overpopulated.

Moving people from one community to another has been proven to have a huge impact on their mental health. Taking a family from where they may have been for generations and moving them somewhere completely different can leave them feeling isolated from anyone and disassociated from both their new and old communities. Also, if there are children how could this affect their education? It may not be as easy to just continue their subjects at a new school. Not all schools have the same number of options for subjects at GCSE and not all schools do the same courses. So having to move because there are too many bedrooms in your house may potentially ruin your education.

But as we, Britain as a whole, do not feel compelled to help those on benefits, those affected by the spare bedroom tax will flounder. A few will swim but most will drown. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, how have we become so selfish Britain?

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