Bedroom Tax – the bullshit klaxons and why its a gender issue

There are a million spare bedrooms in social housing – cue the bullshit klaxons going off left right and centre at this Tory propaganda bullshit.  It’s a lie any way you look at it which I will come on below but more importantly it is used to ingrain into the publics mind that social housing is badly utilised and is wasteful.  That is another reason why the Dark Arts masters in the coalition IDS and Grant Shapps (the Chairman and former Housing Minister) now seek to call the bedroom tax the ‘Spare Room Subsidy.’

Goebbels himself would be proud of the propaganda the Tories such as IDS and Shapps (and even the I am a Tory in all but name Lib Dems such as Steve Webb) spew forth on a regular basis.

See here for example of Shapps calling the bedroom tax a spare room subdisy and stating 3 times it is 1 million spare rooms in social housing.

Spare Bedrooms 1?

Let us look at what we have been told.  660,000 social properties under occupy of whom we are told 81% underoccupy by 1 bedroom and 19% by 2+ bedrooms

  • Of those 81% which is 540,00 who allegedly under occupy by 1 bedroom makes 540,000 spare ‘bedrooms’ to add to the total.
  • To that we add the remainder (660,000 – 540,00) 120,000 who underoccupy by 2 bedrooms and this adds 240,000 to the 540,000 to give 760,000 in total
  • The 1m spare bedrooms is a myth unless of course the 120,000 households who underoccupy by 2 or more bedrooms underoccupy by 3.83 bedrooms each!!!

Unless we have 120,000 single social tenants roaming around in 5 bed properties the coalition claim that we have 1 million spare bedrooms in social housing is a downright LIE! 

Yet who challenges these off-the-cuff remarks and who have ever asked the government to produce any evidence of these claims?  Absolutely nobody!

So it must be that the anti bedroom tax campaigners, social landlords, the Labour Party and all others who oppose the bedroom tax must think the government wouldn’t lie!!!!

KLAXONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!

Spare Bedrooms 2?

The English Housing Survey which is the largest survey of housing and the most official source was published last week by CLG (that’s the government department responsible for housing.) As one of its key findings it says that underoccupancy in social housing is 10%, yet in private rented housing it is 16% and in owner occupied properties it is 49%.

Rates of under-occupation remained substantially higher in the owner occupied sector (49%) than in both the social rented sector (10%) and private rented sector (16%).

English Housing Survey ISBN: 978-1-4098-3777-0

Straightaway those figures reveal there is 60% more underoccupancy in private housing than in social housing.  Yet the coalition would have us, the general public, the electorate and taxpayer, that social housing is notoriously inefficient when it comes to allocating social housing. (I wish those bedroom tax bullshit klaxons would kindly and ever-so diplomatically fuck off reader!)

The EHS also revealed there are 3.8m rented houses in the private sector and 3.8m in the social rented sector so they are the same size.  Therefore whatever way you measure underoccupancy (and there are at least two ways) the private sector has 60% more than the ‘grossly inefficient’ social housing sector the coalition would have us believe! (Don’t worry I have found a mute button for the klaxon – although the vibration it makes is rattling the desk!)

  • So 10% of 3.9m social housing properties is 390,000 spare bedrooms
  • 16% of 3.9m privately rented properties is 624,000 spare bedrooms
  • 49% of 14,148,794 owned properties is 6,932,909 spare bedrooms

So ask yourself why the government is only targeting and decrying social housing on the spare bedroom and implied inefficient waste grounds!

Spare Bedrooms 3?

Take in a lodger the coalition cry – just as many tenants cry too thinking how they can prevent their daughters being raped by them, but that’s another story – and we will even disregard the first £20 per week rent the social tenant charges – ah the benevolence of this caring government eh?

Well after that first £20 per week they will reduce your benefits by 85p for every £1 you charge – Yes an effective tax rate of 85% – such a generous bunch aren’t they taxing the benefit claimant at 85% while billionaires only pay 45% (and that of course assumes they pay at all!)

But let’s go back to the English Housing Survery…you know the official figures reader.  The 3.8m PRS tenants and 3.8m social tenants live alongside 14,148,794 owner-occupiers.  There are spare bedrooms in 48% of these households which makes at least 6,932,909 owned properties with spare rooms

If you own a property you can rent out a spare bedroom to a lodger and the first £4250 per year is tax-free.  So firstly compare that to a social tenant who is only allowed £1040 per year tax-free and then gets an effective 85% tax rate! Secondly, the 6,932,909 householders who could each get a further £4250 per year tax-free are missing out on £29.46 BILLION per year in this tax-free scheme.

So we see the politically revered homeowners missing out on £28.86 billion..you know the same role models all tenants should and must aspire to replicate!  I can feel the moral indignation coming out of the Tories at that suggestion.  I’m not having a pleb as a lodger, I bought my house to be as far away from them as possible!!  But hang on don’t we have a national crisis and a chronic shortage of homes for people to live in?  Oh I see so they can only go and live with other plebs then and even a £28bn per year incentive is not enough! Ah I see now.  Yes that would stop them building new houses for the plebs on England’s green and pleasant land wouldn’t it!!

Sorry read I’m digressing again aren’t I?

Spare bedroom cost?

Back on topic now and the bedroom tax will save £480m per year so it’s for the good of the country in these austere times isn’t it and only fair? (KLAXON, KLAXON, KLAXON!!)

Has anyone actually looked at this claim with any degree of circumspect?  Of course not its just like the 1m spare bedrooms in social housing bullshit claim. I looked at it briefly and discussed it here and 660,000 at an average £14 per week is when you crunch the numbers £482m per year.  So this means the government don’t see any additional cost the bedroom tax will create at all else the additional cost of for example homelessness it directly creates would have to be deducted from the £480m figure.

The bedroom tax WONT in the government’s view create:

  • ANY homelessness costs
  • ANY increased policing costs (think of upsurge in domestic violence this shortage of money will create and how much does each DV case cost the public purse?)
  • ANY increased NHS cost (again think of DV costs as above or even cost of treating malnutrition!!)
  • ANY other local authority cost (as in homelessness applications to be assessed or welfare advice or social services costs etc)

In fact the government would have us believe the bedroom tax wont create ANY additional public purse cost at all !!!  The bedroom will only save money and not create any other public purse cost!!!

The link to DV cost to the public purse puts this at £5.5bn per year so if DV cases go up by 5% because of the bedroom tax then this adds £275m per year to public purse costs.  But of course I am speculating and of course couples don’t argue about money do they….er!! (Wait till UC moves benefit payments to monthly!!!)

I use the DV example above as just one of many examples where the bedroom tax cut will obviously impact and to show that the alleged impact assessment which all governments do and correctly so before proposing a policy is total bullshit!  In fact that same alleged impact assessment  on the bedroom tax says on its final page that:

DWP intend to undertake independent monitoring and evaluation to assess the impact of the introduction of size criteria in the social rented sector as outlined during the passage of the Welfare Reform Act. DWP expect the research to be undertaken over a two year period from 2013/14, with preparatory work starting in 2012/13 with initial findings being available in early 2013

The research methodology and scope will be finalised in consultation with contractors once the initial commissioning work has been completed.

DWP currently envisage that the evaluation will include a range of social landlords and local authorities across England, Scotland and Wales. Different types of authorities including a range of urban, rural and county district local authorities will be included and these will be selected to cover a range of different housing market demands, to ensure DWP can explore the effects of the introduction of size criteria effectively, and gain sound insight into the experiences of tenants of various age groups, those with a disability, their gender and ethnicity.

Read that any way you like but it means one thing.  The government has NOT done an impact assessment!

The government does not know the impact the bedroom tax will have on gender, ethnicity and disability yet they boldly assert it WILL save £480m per year (a figure they have revised upwards to £505m by the way!)

If they don’t know what the impact will be how the hell can they be so certain it WILL save any money at all?

The other reason for mentioning the DV point was much discussion has been made as to the effect or impact or consequence of the bedroom tax on disability. Some, but a lot less on ethnicity, but largely limited to the overall benefit cap and its impact on large families as BME groups tend to have larger families.  Yet there is scant discussion of the bedroom tax impact on gender such as domestic violence and abuse.

The bedroom tax will have massive gender consequences and these need to be looked at and addressed.

So why hasn’t Women’s Aid or other DV lobbies raised this?  Why haven’t other female lobbies raised this likely consequence?  It would appear the gender lobbies like the older persons lobbies like the social landlord and like the Labour Party has not yet seen these issues!  Come on people this is woeful!

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One thought on “Bedroom Tax – the bullshit klaxons and why its a gender issue

  1. Can you tell us more about the massive gender consequences that are expected – or point me in the right direction to read about them? And are they expected largely as a result of the bedroom tax, or more as a result of the other welfare reforms?

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