23 – Respect for home and the family

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Many people with learning disabilities are placed in residential care and at times their home is not identifiable; there were ‘….3,250 people with learning disabilities in units as of September …Sixty per cent of this group had been on hospital wards for over a year. One in five are being treated more than 60 miles from home. Providers could not supply a valid residential postcode for 910 people (28.0 per cent of inpatients).[1] Disabled people are being placed in residential homes, not from choice but because of inadequate care in their own home. Also disabled people fear being forced into residential care simply because it will cost the state less than providing 24 hour care in a disabled person’s home.

Respect for the home and family of disabled people in the UK has been severely undermined by the ‘bedroom tax’ or spare room subsidy, as well as other punitive changes through reform of the welfare system. From 1 April 2013, Housing Benefit and Universal Credit claimants deemed to have one ‘spare’ bedroom in their council or housing association home lost 14% of their housing benefit and those with two or more lost 25%. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) estimates 660,000 people living in social housing will lose an average of £728 per year as a result of this bedroom tax. This will force people to seek other accommodation.

The 2013 Report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing called for an immediate suspension of the bedroom tax and for it to be fully evaluated in light of evidence of its negative impacts. She made particular note of the violation of article 19.[2] Many disabled people do not wish to leave their adapted properties, yet there are few accessible homes or even one bedroom homes to move to. One disabled grandmother took her own life rather than give up her home.[3] The media has reported that only 6% of those affected have moved and 28% are now in rent arrears[4]

[1] http://www.hscic.gov.uk/catalogue/PUB13149?campaignkw=Learningdisabilitycensusreport

[2]  A_HRC_25_54_Add.2_ENG

[3] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2323209/Bedroom-tax-victim-Stephanie-Bottrill-hit-20-week-charge-dies-leaving-note-saying-Government-blame.html#ixzz2T4IlJwWq

[4] http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/03/esther-mcvey-flounders-bedroom-tax-failure-becomes-clear

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