UN Housing Investigator Hits Back At ‘Aggressive’ UK Government

raquel-rolnik-unUN housing investigator, Raquel Rolnik has hit back at the ‘aggressive’ behaviour and language of the UK Government following her criticisms of the ‘bedroom tax’, or ‘spare room subsidy’, which she recommended be immediately suspended in a press release yesterday.

Tory chairman Grant Shapps has described her actions and investigation as an “absolute disgrace” and has written a letter of complaint to Ban Ki Moon at the United Nations in which he criticises Ms Rolnik’s use of the term ‘bedroom tax’, used by the media and campaigners to describe the ‘spare room subsidy’ which means that those in social housing must contribute toward their rent through a deduction in housing benefit, and says that UK courts have ruled the controversial coalition policy to be legal and does not infringe upon human rights laws and legislation.

Grant Shapps also appears to suggest that Rolnik’s investigation was conducted poorly; that she was not invited and did not contact Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) officials during the 12 day investigation. Accusations Rolnik has vehemently rejected. The visit was organised by the UK Government in order to demonstrate that it was fulfilling its obligations to the UN Convention on Human Rights, Rolnik claims.

Ms Rolnik visited London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast and Manchester during her 12 day investigation of social housing in the UK and spoke to a number of people who had been directly affected by the coalition government’s ‘bedroom tax’. She also met with representatives from the Daily Record who presented her with a dossier of stories from their readers affected by the controversial policy, as well as the Independent and Guardian newspapers.

Shapps claims Ms Rolnik’s investigation was politically biased – influenced by the press and campaigners – and urges the UN to conduct a full investigation. Ms Rolnik has hit back at the accusation in an interview with Inside Housing during which she said: “I didn’t come here to investigate the ‘bedroom tax’, I came here as a normal country mission, to assess the situation. I came across the ‘bedroom tax’ when I was here, but I am an independent investigator.”

Ms Rolnik hit back at Grant Shapps allegations that she did not meet with government officials: ‘This is absolutely not true. I have met officials from many departments, and the details of these meetings are all listed within my report.” Rolnik claims that she  met with the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and Under Secretary Don Foster and other officials during her visit.

She goes on to slam the ‘aggressive’ behaviour of the UK Government:

“It was the first time a government has been so aggressive. When I was in the USA, I had a constructive conversation with them accepting some things and arguing with others. They did not react like this.”

As well as Britain, Ms Rolnik has carried out  housing investigations in Croatia, Algeria, Maldives, Argentina, United States, Israel, Rwanda, Palestine, Kazakhstan and Indonesia. In none of these did she experience the same level of hostility and aggressiveness from the government, Rolnik says.

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  • http://gravatar.com/bobchewie bobchewie

    such idiotic tory policies where one policy contradicts the other..bedroom tax forces you to move..and localism prevents you from moving…twats..

  • lisa

    I’m a single parent with a five year old with Autism. I have to pay bedroom tax. Bedroom tax for a teeny tiny three bedroom house with no storage. The little bedroom is no bigger than a glorified cubby hole. All one can fit in it is a single bed and one narrow chest of draws. I use it for storage. I was told by my local council that as I receive Carers Allowance for my son, I can use that to pay. Hmmm to Bob the Capitalist.


    Well aren’t you all great at patting yourselves on the back and saying how terrible this all is?

    I wonder in all the other countries did Ms UN publish press statements as she left full of political bias.

    Why do you all think that there is an entitlement to whatever you want? People who aren’t in Social Housing don’t get payments for spare rooms and when I bought my house (evil capitalist that I am) I didn’t get a taxpayer coming along and paying for me to have a load of extra space I’m not using. If I want more space, I have to spend less on other things so that I can afford it.

    Get over yourselves. If you put half the energy you waste on hating Politicians who are trying to be equitable for all – not just those who don’t or can’t work – into something useful – you could change the world.

    In fact – why don’t you stand to be Politicians on £7 and hour – then you would see how easy it is. I’d vote for you as what we need is a load of second rate whingers running the country.

    • SvenH

      So delusional, don’t know where to start, in addressing your uniformed and false assumptions just crawl back under your rock Bob.

    • Noel

      Capitalist Bob, the people that are in Social Housing are the poorest in the nation, so in your capitalist view all poor people should be punished for being poor?? I strongly feel that the Government should have implemented a Mansion Tax so rich Capitalists like yourself could be charged more, generate more money and maybe make a bigger differnce. The bedroom tax in NI took 27m to implement and only generates 24m…. whats your view on this?

  • Colin Gee

    Of course the UK courts would find this “under occupancy charge” (bedroom tax) legal, wouldn’t the ministers have bent the ears of the judges to find it so, if this coalition had nothing to hide then why venomously attack a UN rapporteur when she found that their plans for reform (regression) were harming the very people it was supposed to be helping.
    The main stream media have done nothing to highlight the plight of the vulnerable, again stifled by the school tie brigade.
    The people of the UK are slowly waking up to this rubbish being spouted by the politicians and the politicians are looking at ways to suppress and oppress its peoples views of their mis-management of the whole welfare system, it is proved that their ministers have lied, there is proof that their ministers are thieves, David Cameron included, and there is now one of their own being taken to court for sex offences, this man is innocent under the law and i make no comment on the ongoing Judicial process that is investigating the offences except as already stated, this man is innocent until decided by the courts and his peers sitting on a jury.
    This present coalition have a lot to answer for but with toy throwing MP’s trying to smoke screen their followers who have yet to wake up to this incompetent body, they go about by verbally attacking anyone that don’t agree with their policies.
    They are quick enough to try to ridicule anyone who tries to stand in their way or who speaks out about them, The latest victim is Ms Raquel Rolnik From the UN, but while doing that, their own skeletons are safe in their cupboards.
    But one day,,, it is all going to come to a head and then everyone will see them for what they really are, but until then the few of us must continue the fight and try to educate others and bring them into the real world.

  • lindsay

    when will they decide as iv only got 1 bedroom BUT a big garden MY gadens 2 big & I,m liable for some sort of garden tax….Or I,ll lose my garden…..I wish I,m no gardener I,m disabled

  • Mr.Angry

    It is inconceivable that Shapps refers to “used by the media” what have bunch of criminals done since taking office? Controlled the media to use their viscous slanderous propaganda against the poor and the sick and furthermore gagged the BBC from telling the public the true facts of their fascist regime. Pass me my statins.

  • caryl

    If it was a tax to help with social housing then it would affect ALL in social housing.It does NOT affect pensioners living in a 3 bed house on their own,nor does it affect working folks living in a big house.It only affects those claiming housing benefit.It is purely aimed at reducing the money the poor can claim without caring where they go,infact it is ethnic cleansing at its worst.in london or big cities they would like to get rid of the poor in some areas all together.one block of flats that booted out the folks with spare rooms is now a posh block for solitors accountants etc.They are a cruel lot in power,those that hoot its a great idea should be very careful what they wish for.zero hours are replacing paid workers,thus putting those in great danger that are smug now.demonising the poor and disabled is the mark of a weak goverment and one never to be trusted.

  • carolyn cranton

    Correct me if I am wrong but if you have a spare room in which you can fit a bed, then you get charged. Bedroom tax! What next dining table tax?

    • Rob

      Window tax

  • Anonymous

    They don’t like the term “bedroom tax”, it shows they are losing the propaganda war. Words are important, Orwell understood this. It’s why they use the word “benefits” instead of “welfare” or “social security”. The word “benefits” make it sound like something less deserved, like a bonus, not a basic necessity or “safety net” as they usually are to people. If you want to start to change things start with your own words. Change the words and you change the way other people think about it, this in turn affects the reality of how they perceive it.

    • https://www.facebook.com/SindiDoll Sindi Dolan

      the words welfare and social security do not exist in UK, they are not part of our language, therefore why would the words be used? We aren’t going to call them by American words because we aren’t American.
      That said, although this bedroom tax doesn’t affect me (parent with child living at home, in a 2 bed property) I think it is absolutely disgusting. I have seen people forced out of properties they have grown up in and lived their entire lives, because they can no longer afford to live there, and what they get in return, the properties they are forced into, are disgusting and run down. its awful.

      • Carol W.

        Sindi, DWP used to be called DSS ( department of SOCIAL SECURITY )

  • https://www.facebook.com/budgiebird.peter Peter Burrage

    Shapps has got the gall to complain that this lady is referring to this penalty as the bedroom tax, while referring to it himself as the spare room subsidy. The actual term in the legislation is the under-occupancy charge. If Shapps can’t get it right and his government passed the legislation, how can he criticise someone from another continent for getting it wrong?

  • gibby

    the government are what the people put there and lets face it no one liked Saddam or Gaddafi but hang on a minute arnt this government doing the same to its own people but in a sly way and no one is coming here to take them out and remove them they wont go for a election because they no they will loose so while they are in power they are going to make there own millions and destroy the country before they get voted out

  • Beth

    This lady is wonderful and she has the backing of the people of the UK unlike our unelected, unmandated government, who have no right or the authority to inflict such harsh cuts and ‘Welfare Reform’ upon US the hard working people of the United Kingdom.

    • Celia

      Totally agree with you, this government are intent on grinding us all into the dust… all except their rich friends!

    • carolyn cranton

      Notice IDS was first at the post when he was asked to live on benefits. Total scum the lot of them. Politicians should be paid minimum wage then we will get some people who really care at the top

  • http://facebook sandy

    good on her im getting sick and tired .specially when your gp tells u that u need 2 bedroom cause health reason and you still have to pay 15.00 a week out of your money

  • http://twitter.com/tarotcat @tarotcat

    Oh, yes please, let the UN do a full investigation. Bet he wouldn’t like the results of that either but who is he going to complain to then?

  • Ben

    “Shapps claims Ms Rolnik’s investigation was politically biased – influenced by the press and campaigners – and urges the UN to conduct a full investigation.”

    Does this guy not realise just how obscene it is for him to object to this? This is the political equivalent of punching someone then complaining that someone in authority DARED to speak to the other person about the issue to find out what’s happened.

  • https://www.facebook.com/Navajo77 Jemma McLaughlan

    I don’t understand how it can be classed as legal, when benefits are already means tested to state that a certain amount is what people ‘need to live on’ so by taking more of this benefit from people leaves them with NOT enough to live on

    • http://gravatar.com/rushtonlafayette rushtonlafayette

      Jemma this is a very good point. Well done for pointing it out

  • http://facebook Andrew Peacock

    glad someone as stood up to these un elected tory posh boys .PITY WE CANT ALL DO IT OURSELVES !!!!!!

    • https://www.facebook.com/raoul.pinkney Raoul Pinkney

      In 2015 we can

    • Gazza

      I wish we all did but tbh as soon we start a protest they will immediately shut that particular group or party down without any thought or reason

  • Karen

    I think Shapps, Fox, Green, what ever he calls himself these days needs to be investigated by the fraud squad!!!

  • http://facebook janice

    this gov is like this to everyone unless your rich , if your rich they can’t do enough for you

  • Jonathan

    So the UN comes in and writes a report about how appalling this government is treating the people and how social housing isn’t good enough and that it is a bedroom “tax” and they don’t like it.

  • http://welfairnewsservice anthony

    I think this lady told it at it is , its a tax on the most needy

  • KMB.

    It is well known that aggressive defence is a sign of something to hide. You don’t get aggressively deffensive unless you’re trying to cover something up. This government is a disgrace and they know it. She has come in, seen what we are suffering first hand at these tyrants and has written a report as such. By the government saying she was ‘Politically Biased’ because she spoke to everyday people, read letters from people in bad situations CAUSED by this government; the government has in turn called us UNWORTHY. They have said our opinion is NOT APPLICABLE. This is a DISGRACE. This government is there to serve US not the other way around… These ”People” (I use this term loosely) will exit this government run with the title of WORST GOVERNMENT IN HISTORY and the conservatives will not set foot in 10 downing street again. If any good has come out of all of this, it’s that this government has UNITED us as a people, US against THEM, and trust me David Cameron, there are a lot more of us, than there is YOU. So be prepared to pack your bags and exit this country when you can no longer hide in 10 downing street, because the people of this country NEVER FORGET.

    • BARRY

      I wholeheartedly agree with all that KMB has said. My problem is convincing those affected round me to go vote. I get the usual things thrown at me. “they are all the same” “why should i bother” “it will not make a difference”. I try to explain a non vote is as good as a vote for the tories and yes your vote does count. the young especially are so apathetic. it frustrates me to the point of saying if you haven’t voted then you have no say as far as i am concerned. we need to educate the young about the importance of voting.

    • Jason Hocking

      Agree whole heartedly with KMB,about time someone stood up to the “Posh scrounging bastards”that claim “we are all in this together”Yeah course we are Davey boy!!If you happen to have a cool million or 20 hanging around or if you are really lucky,as you were,left for you!!As WE all know you and many of your people have never done an honest days work in your sad pathetic lives!!Instead you feed off the needy people of OUR society,laughing at THEM and US as you swagger into your multi million pound homes with more than enough space for you!!The people will NEVER FORGET!!!.

  • http://www.facebook.com/denise.clendinning Denise Clendinning

    welcome to the UK it,s like this all the time you should hear what they call us.

  • Gary Rowell

    Well done her I say and Shapps is just a nasty mouth piece throwing his toys out of the pram when they are caught in a highly embarrassing expose of clear attack on the most vulnerable in society that have no voice .He is just like Iain Dunken Smith who if he does not get his own way he blames everything but himself and those behind these nasty attacks on our society !

    • Mark Johnson

      Also remember that Shnapps made his money thieving off customers who bought into his”get rich quick scheme”using a false name ,telling lots of bull about how much people could make ,He is a well known Fraudster