Bedroom tax harming children’s learning amid stress and hunger, experts claim

Dec 8, 2015 by

Parents cutting back on food and clothing due to benefit reforms lead to adverse impacts and material hardship for children, researchers find

Education experts are calling on the government to review its bedroom tax after early research indicated it was having an adverse impact on learning because affected children were stressed and hungry at school.

Researchers from Manchester University found that children were showing signs of emotional distress because they were seeing their parents under pressure and were experiencing material hardship as a result of the benefit cut.

Parents were having to cut back on food, shopping for fewer and cheaper provisions, and hungry children were finding it harder to concentrate in lessons, sometimes leading to classroom unrest and aggressive behaviour, the report said.

One father of four is quoted as saying: “[My] financial situation at the moment is very bleak, very bleak. I have £10 to my name and I have no money till Tuesday, so you can imagine the cupboards are nearly bare … I am just struggling.”

A mother of four describes her son’s attempts to shield her from extra expense. “He was freezing and he was too scared to say to me ‘Mum, I need a coat’ because he didn’t want to put added pressure on me.”

The small-scale exploratory study is the first to examine the effects of the policy on children and their education. The bedroom tax was introduced by the coalition government in April 2013 in an attempt to encourage social housing tenants to move from bigger properties into smaller homes.

It was one element in a raft of benefits changes for working-age adults, and it resulted in cuts in housing benefits of an average of £11 a week (£572 a year) for those deemed to have one spare bedroom, and more for those with two.

Source: Bedroom tax harming children’s learning amid stress and hunger, experts claim | Society | The Guardian

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