Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Community Donates Money to Save the Home of Mother of Murdered Rapper

Today I came across one of the most inspiring fundraising pages that I have seen in a long time. It was set up to raise money for the mother to of a murdered rapper (Josh/Depzman) who risks loosing her family home less than 2 years after her son was stabbed to death. The page was set up by a member of her family on Sunday and by Tuesday morning it had raised over £1,670. The target is £2,000. The cause of her (Alison Cope) rental arrears are due to bedroom tax being imposed on the property which is one of the few things she has left to remember her son who was murdered at the age of 18. She has been issued with an eviction notice and has 4 weeks to raise the funds or leave her family home that she once shared with her murdered son and estranged husband (who she separated from as a result of the stress suffered from the loss of their son).

I do agree with the idea of bedroom tax if it was applied sensibly and logically. I understand that the system needs to appear more fair to prevent members of society who work, showing animosity toward those who are in receipt of public funds. I also appreciate the fact that people who are employed have to downside property when their funds are reduced and therefore I can understand that they would find it unfair that people who are not in a position to support themselves do not have to consider downsizing when they are over occupying a property. It also seems crazy that you can have a family of four crammed in a 2 bedroom flat owned by local housing, while a single person lives in a 3 bedroom house owned by local housing because there children have left home. If a person who is not vulnerable is offered a smaller property and they refuse to move without good reason then yes in principle I can understand the logic of requiring them to pay for the luxury of having a spare room if it is not needed. However, this should be used on a case by case basis as as a last resort to encourage people to move to smaller properties if they are available and subject to their personal circumstances. For example it wouldn't be fair to move someone who didn't drive from a town/city to a rural location where support and employment would be scarce. However, the bedroom tax is completely pointless if there are not smaller properties available for the tenant in question. If the fact that there are not sufficient properties available to reshuffle tenants does not convince you that the bedroom tax is unfair and a waste of time, then consider the reason why people are claiming housing benefit in the first place?

Claimants are claiming free rent or contributions towards their rent because their household income falls below the amount that the government has set as the basic minimum amount that a person/family needs to survive. Thinking about this logically, how can you demand that members of society living on basic funds pay a fee (bedroom tax) when they are claiming assistance (housing benefit) for a fee (rent) that they already cannot afford because they are considered as having insufficient funds to survive by the government that also imposed the bedroom tax. If the government say that £x is the minimum a person/family needs to survive how can they then contradict themselves and tax them when they cannot afford to pay the rent in the first place. When you look at it from this perspective, there really is no logic to this tax.

If the government are determined to keep the bedroom tax they need to adopt common sense, compassion and guidelines on genuine mitigating circumstances that can omit a person from contributing towards bedroom tax. The government need to consider occupants that are in genuine need of the extra space (considering parents with visiting rights and people with disabilities). For example you can not expect teenage girls to share a bedroom with their father every weekend. This would just be completely inappropriate! Also its obvious that disabled and elderly people are going to need extra space for equipment and wheelchairs/mobility scooters. The government also need to factor in vulnerable claimants who have suffered the loss of a child or partner or who are vulnerable and in need of extra support from the people around them who probably live near to them. People like the mother of the murdered rapper, who is still coming to terms with loosing her young son in a brutal and sudden way. Being around happy memories with the support of her neighbours, friends and family could make the difference between her dealing with her grief and eventually moving on with her life and her being unable to deal with or get over the pain that she must be feeling. The sad thing is she is not alone. How many other grieving parents and widows are suffering the same fear and treatment through no fault of their own, during a time when they need support and their worries reduced instead of their worries increased with tax that serves no purpose other than to punish and judge those who are as most in need? More needs to be done to protect  those that are vulnerable or grieving. This should also extend to those who risk loosing private properties when a loved one dies.

In the short term I hope that the mother of the murdered rapper raises sufficient funds to secure her property and prevent eviction. Thankfully, looking at the fundraising page it looks like this is very likely. In the long term the government need to either scrap this contradictory and unjust piece of legislation or spent more time on making it fair and logical.

You can find out more about the untimely death of Josh Ribera (Depzman) here.

To make a donation to his mothers fundraising page click here.

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