Policies prioritising home ownership, along with welfare changes are threatening adequate housing provision in the UK, according to a UN report
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Following visits to various UK cities, United Nations Special Rapporteur Raquel Rolnik has compiled the report to be presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council in March.
The highly critical report concluded that measures such as the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ – a reduction in benefit if homes are deemed to be under occupied - as well as the impact of historical programmes such as right to buy, are in danger of eroding the UK’s good reputation for affordable housing provision.
She said: ‘For generations, being poor in the UK didn’t necessarily equate to being homeless, or to living badly housed and in permanent threat of eviction.’
‘Unfortunately, the system has been weakened by a series of measures over the years, notably by having privileged homeownership over other forms of tenure,’ she said.
Rolnik also warned that the bedroom tax could breach human rights and called for it to be scrapped saying that it has ‘already had impacts on some of the most vulnerable members of society’.
‘I am also concerned about the conditions of private renters, as the reduction in the social housing stock and the credit downturn, has forced a higher percentage of the population, notably young people, to the private sector, with substantial impact on affordability, location and tenure security,’ Rolnik said.
The report’s preliminary recommendations include suspending the bedroom tax, putting in place a system of regulation for the private rent sector, and renewed government commitment to significantly increasing the social housing stock.
‘The right to housing is not about a roof anywhere, at any cost, without any social ties,’ Rolnik said. ‘It is not about reshuffling people according to a snapshot of the number of bedrooms at a given night. It is about enabling environments for people to maintain their family and community bonds, their local schools, work places and health services allowing them to exercise all other rights, like education, work, food or health.’