A United Nations report on UK housing conditions calling for the suspension of the bedroom tax has been dismissed by 10 Downing Street as partisan, discredited and a "misleading Marxist diatribe".
The full report by the UN's special investigator Raquel Rolnik can be downloaded here.
Full press statement can be read here.
The report on housing by Raquel Rolnik, who made a research trip to Britain last August and September to look at housing provision, was published by the UN on Monday.
In it, Rolnik reiterated her earlier call for the bedroom tax policy to be suspended and reviewed because it negatively "impacts on the right to adequate housing and general wellbeing of many vulnerable individuals and households".
The report said lack of investment in housing over several decades meant Britain now faces a crisis of housing affordability and availability. It called for increased protections for tenants in the rapidly growing private rented sector who find themselves with "very few rights and little security", and called for a series of welfare reforms to be re-assessed to ensure they do not impact disproportionately on the most vulnerable individuals.
Britain's previously good record on housing was being eroded by a failure to provide sufficient quantities of affordable and social housing, the report said, with the result that "the structural shape of the housing sector has changed to the detriment of the most vulnerable". It called on the UK government to invest more in social housing.
The report did not hold back from documenting the combined impact of welfare reform and the housing crisis on vulnerable people, which Rolnik found on her visit had left many low income, disabled and homeless people in "tremendous despair".
Rolnik met dozens of council house tenants during her visit last year, when – at the formal invitation of the
UK government – she travelled to Belfast, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London and visited council estates, food banks, homelessness crisis centres, Traveller sites and new housing association developments. She also reviewed hundreds of written testimonies.
Her report described the impact of bedroom tax on low-income tenants who "faced hard choices between food, heating or paying the rent" as they struggled to stay in the house they had lived in all their lives. It said: "Many felt targeted and forced to give up their neighbourhoods, their carers and their safety net."
The report added: "While in principle the bedroom tax policy does not force people to move, the reality of people's experience, many of whom are working people with no income to spare, left no doubt in the special rapporteur's mind that many have no other option, which has left them in tremendous despair."
Shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds said: "Labour has called on David Cameron to reverse his unfair and unworkable bedroom tax because we can see the impact it is having on hard-pressed and often vulnerable people, the majority of whom are disabled. If he doesn't repeal the bedroom tax, the next Labour government will."
The UK government & the Department of Work and Pensions are set to block SNP moves to pump in an extra £15 million of emergency funding to effectively neutralise the impact of the bedroom tax in Scotland - source
Nicola Sturgeon has demanded the green light from Westminster to scrap the current limit on assistance and allow the extra cash to provide full cover for the estimated 76,000 families affected by the controversial welfare reform - source
Rolnik has spent much of her five-year tenure as the UN's unpaid special rapporteur on adequate housing looking at human rights violations in countries including Rwanda and Kazakhstan.