Bedroom Tax – Cameron’s bogus argument over fairness at PMQs

You don’t know what you’re doing is a refrain often heard at football matches aimed at the referee. Usually followed by a chorus of who’s the b*****d in the black. I almost expected these refrains to appears in the House of Commons today at Prime Minister Questions (PMQs) – with of course a slight amendment to Who’s the b*****d in the red being more apt for what Cameron is doing to the country – when shock, horror, the bedroom tax was raised!

Cameron clearly was uneasy and most definitely doesn’t understand or have any level of knowledge of the bedroom tax including saying his government has set aside £50m to pay for this when in fact it is £30m.

Unless of course the coalition has increased discretionary housing payments (DHPs) by 60% today and not told anyone! Yes that déjà vu of they’re making it up as they go along was very much in evidence today! And of course even if they have increased DHPs to £50m per year this still means that 90% of those affected by the bedroom tax, which is a mere 1.44m men women and children of the 1.608m affected by it, wont get any help at all with the bedroom tax.

[Note: Bedroom tax affects 670,000 households each of whom have 2.4 people = 1.6m]

Having said that Cameron didn’t understand his brief then, in part, neither did Miliband who said:

“I think he misunderstands the point of social housing: part of its purpose is to protect the most vulnerable, and according to the government’s own figures 2/3 of the people hit are disabled”

Oh dear Ed do get your facts right you’ve been listening to Owen Jones again! 470,000 disabled people is (assuming one per household) 70% of households affected having a disabled person in them as 470,000 out of 670,000 households explains. Yet only 30% of all people affected (470,000 out of 1.6m) have a disability. So please get your facts right and especially so when they make such a good point which you managed to make a pig’s ear out of!

Cameron made a few more gaffes of course such as

“…all the time Labour was in government if you were in a private sector rented home and you were in receipt of Housing Benefit you did not get any benefit for empty rooms.”

Of course Local Housing Allowance which limits housing benefit to family composition did not begin until 2008 so Cameron must believe that Blair was not in office from 1997 to 2008! You would have thought the Prime Minister would know who was in office wouldn’t you!!

But that was about as far as it went reader. Despite it being called PMQs as usual the PM didn’t answer any questions.

Miliband didn’t ask why Cameron’s government says the bedroom tax which does tax tenants for having a spare room was so incongruous with Council Tax relief which sees a millionaire owner living alone getting rewarded with 25% off his Council Tax and for having spare rooms. The fact this reward for spare rooms costs at least 3 times the £480m per year the bedroom tax is claimed to save one would think it a point worthy to ask the PM.

Cameron simply deflected the point Miliband made when he talked of a tenant whose rent was £65 per week in a council 2 bed property yet if she downsized to a private 1 bed property the rent would be £100pw. Then again Miliband didn’t see the real political point in this – that it would cost the public purse 54% more and increase the Housing Benefit bill by 54%. Is Miliband one of the remaining few that doesn’t realise the bedroom tax will cost more than it claims to save?

Miliband also didn’t raise the issue of some pensioners being subject to the bedroom tax. Well when I say some its 90,000 pensioners who will be taxed £75m per year with the bedroom tax so hardly some and we all see the political importance of that as well as the sneakiness of the coalition trying to hide this too!

Still, it’s a start and I imagine the matter will return again to PMQs and especially the fact that pensioners are affected.

Purely coincidentally while drafting this I got a call from a distraught and very well-spoken daughter saying her 76 year-old widowed mum who lives in a 2 bed housing association flat was in a real mess wondering if she was going to be hit by the bedroom tax. I correctly advised her that she wasn’t unless she was going to take up with a toy boy who was born after 1 October 1952.

We agreed the best way to put her mums mind at rest was to tell her to shack up with a 62 year-old toy boy, the daughter agreed her mum would like that…the advice I meant…oi!!

I have just watched PMQs again and you can here and in particular watch from 2:00 minutes in when Cameron says to Miliband:

“Let me make the basic argument of fairness he seems to ignore. If you are in private sector rented housing and receive no housing benefit you dont get money for an extra room.  If you are in private rented sector housing and on housing benefit you dont get money for an extra room. …Why should we be doing more for people in social housing on housing benefit than for those in private rented on housing benefit?”

I have highlighted Cameron’s question on fairness for a very simple reason.  The government is doing more for private rented than for socially rented, it is paying out £2.2 BILLION per year MORE for private housing than it does for the same number of properties as it would if they were socially rented.

Take a look at the official Housing Benefit figures here and you will find if you look at table 5 (cell G59 to be precise) that the private tenant receives on average £106.32 per week in Housing Benefit.  Now scroll to your left and to cell D59 and you will see that a social tenant gets on average £81.12 per week.  So we pay a private tenant £25.20 more in Housing Benefit per week.

Now go to table 4 and look at cell G59 and you see there are 1,653,860 private tenant recipients of Housing Benefit.  So we, the taxpayer pay £25.20 per week more to 1,653,860 private tenants than we do if they live in social housing.

Hence we the taxpayer pay the additional amount of £2,174,660,514 per year more to private tenants in housing benefit than we pay to social tenants.

Yes, reader, you thought that social housing was the ‘taxpayer-subsidised’ sector didn’t you? The social rented sector does receibe £1.2bn per year in capital subsidy (subsidy to build) yet the private sector receives £2.2bn per year in revenue subsidy!

Yes the private rented sector does receive MORE subsidy than the social rented sector.

Is that fair Mr Cameron?  Be careful shooting yourself in the foot after all the A&E’s you are closing prolongs the pain!

You will also see Cameron repeating that Housing Benefit is now £23bn per year.  This is the same Mr Cameron who in January 2012 said the Housing Benefit bill had reduced. Yes the same Mr Cameron who admitted in December 2012 (inadvertantly) that he had lied to parliament over this in January 2012.  The same Mr Cameron that heads up the same coalition which said it would reduce the then £20.8bn Housing Benefit bill it ‘inherited’ from Laboutr by nearly £2bn.  And yes the same Housing Benefit bill that stands at the latest figures (shamefully for August 2012) at £23.567bn some £4.8bn per year OVER and above his own target.

Under this same Mr Cameron the Housing Benefit bill has risen by £37.85 PER SECOND since he took office (and yes that means every second of every minute of every hour and 24 hours per day)

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2 thoughts on “Bedroom Tax – Cameron’s bogus argument over fairness at PMQs

  1. Landlord 52 (@52Landlord) February 10, 2013 at 1:02 am Reply

    “Take a look at the official Housing Benefit figures …. that the private tenant receives on average £106.32 per week in Housing Benefit. …. social tenant gets on average £81.12 per week. So we pay a private tenant £25.20 more in Housing Benefit per week.”

    Your comments are a distortion.

    1. Firstly, private landord did n’t get a subsidy to buy a property.

    2. Housing Association and Council got the the money to build their housing stock from government.

    3. A further, £40billion has gone in from the Government to bring social housing up to Decent Housing Standard.

    4. The Decent Housing Standard requires “a reasonably modern kitchen (20 years old or less) or “reasonably modern bathroom (30 years old or less)”. In the private rental sector, a kitchen needs to be updated every 6-10 years. The future for social housing looks bleak, without continual investment in the housing stock.

    5. A lot of council housing dates from 50s and 60s. Housing association have the newest housing stock. Where as the private rental sector has to contend with the oldest housing stock.

    6. Housing Associations constantly go cap in hand to the treasury. Private Landlord on the other hand, give money to the treasury, as tax is paid on rental income.

    7. Private Landlord pay capital gains tax on any profits made on disposal of a rental property. Home owners and councils/H.A. don’t pay tax on any profits made.

    8. “private tenant received an average £106.32″. How much of this was paid to the landlord? How much was misappropriated by LHA tenants?, Housing Associations have enjoyed years of direct payment.

  2. Ben Reeve Lewis Friday newsround #95 February 15, 2013 at 7:52 am Reply

    [...] the tail end of last week, after Newsround #94 went to bed I caught up with Joe Halewood on SPeye  pointing out that in fact, of the two housing sectors the Private Rented Sector is more heavily [...]

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