General Synod meeting in London this Tuesday November 18th has overwhelmingly supported a call which originated from churches in the Bradford area to investigate the effects of the Spare Room Subsidy or ‘Bedroom tax’ which speaker after speaker said was ‘ineffective’ and ‘unjust’.
Just three members of the church’s national Synod (or ‘parliament’) abstained with 249 voting in favour and none against the motion calling on the Church of England to carry out an evaluation of research into the Bedroom Tax and to promote with Her Majesty's Government and partners from the social and housing sector ways of ensuring access to suitable local housing for all, especially for those who are vulnerable without increasing levels of debt.
Proposing the motion, Ian Fletcher (pictured left), a member of the former Bradford Diocesan Synod said, “This motion reflects a real concern from those working among the poor and marginalised in Bradford … The motion reflects the fact that all are responsible for all. It relates to the ‘common good’ and the holding of government to account.”
Mr Fletcher told Synod, “We are not opposed to change and indeed we are supportive of it. We are however opposed to change that disregards the needs of the poor and vulnerable.” But he said that there was real doubt about the savings to the exchequer of the tax and added, “ We are convinced that those who suffer as a result of it are often the least able in our society.”
Many speakers spoke of the hardship which was being experienced in parishes across the country which one speaker called ‘the politics of Alice in Wonderland’.
A background paper (GS 1965A) from the diocese explained why General Synod members had been asked to support the Bradford motion. “As well as being ineffective, we perceive both the principle behind the policy and the consequences of its implementation to be unjust…. Our position is that, in the principle of the tax we see a deep unfairness and almost a cultural disregard for the lives of the poor and a devaluing of commitment to place and community which are so important to the Common Good and have always been a core consideration of the Church of England.”
The Synod voted “That this Synod, noting the rise in the number and seriousness of reported concerns about the impact of the Spare Room Subsidy (the 'Bedroom Tax') on the vulnerable and others, call on the Mission and Public Affairs Council:
(a) to evaluate the findings of research into the effect of removing the Spare Room Subsidy across the country; and
(b) to promote with Her Majesty's Government and partners from the social and housing sector ways of ensuring access to suitable local housing for all, especially for those who are vulnerable without increasing levels of debt."
Mr Fletcher's speech in full click here
Background paper click here