There is a semantic political sideshow going on with the government and its supporters saying the terms ‘bedroom tax’ is not a tax. Yet that is how it is known by all and sundry. The government prefers ‘spare room subsidy’ yet (a) there are questions as to whether a BEDROOM is spare or not and whether it is a ‘spare room’ is of no consequence at all; (b) it doesn’t apply to a room as a pantry can be classed as a mere room; and (c) if termed a subsidy much more subsidy as in its financial support meaning is given to private tenants than to social tenants
For the sake of argument I will call this policy the ‘bedroom charge’ as its correct full title is the under occupancy CHARGE and its application if entirely dependent on that charge being on a BEDROOM and not a mere room such as a pantry. The official guidance says this explicitly as it states the 14% deduction or charge will apply if there is one bedroom more and not one room more than the housing need.
The term ‘spare room’ means absolutely nothing and so how can you subsidise anything that has no meaning?
There is a good reason for terming this policy the ‘bedroom charge’ for as well as being the most accurate term as I explain above, anyone who presents an argument about the ‘bedroom tax’ is immediately hit with the politically oriented charge that they are left-wing. This is a smoke and mirrors deflection tactic to avoid discussion and merely attack the messenger. And as is argued above the title ‘spare room subsidy’ is much more of a misnomer than the term ‘bedroom tax’ in any case.
Yet the government like to use the term as it subliminally states a room, of which a bedroom is one type, is spare in the already subsidised social housing sector. Yes social housing is subsidised by £1.2bn per year but because in housing benefit terms the taxpayer pays £25 or so per week more in housing benefit to a private tenant and there are over 1.65m private tenants claiming housing benefit this amounts to £2.17bn more in subsidy being paid to private tenants in housing benefit than the equivalent number of social tenants.
Therefore if social housing is a spare room subsidy then private housing is the higher cost of room subsidy – a tag that the government won’t like one bit, but a damn sight more accurate than spare room subsidy is for social housing.
More importantly the policy is what needs debate and that debate sees the policy needing to be removed so let’s get rid of this bedroom charge!
Iain Duncan Smith has written to the BBC saying how dare they call it the bedroom tax see here and the BBC are being left-wing in doing so and showing outrageous bias, etc, etc, etc, etc.
So imagine my surprise when the DWP release an urgent Housing Benefit circular to say they have backed down in their legal appeal against severely disabled children to advise local government of this and they call the under occupation charge the SPARE ROOM SUBSIDY!!!
In an official government document no less! What an absolute duplicitous piece of work IDS is eh reader!
It says at the final section (11)
“The judgment applies to both the LHA size criteria and the reduction of the spare room subsidy which applies from 1 April 2013”
Dear me reader I thought a fundamental element of any democracy was the separation of powers that is supposed to see the UK have a non-political civil service. But here we have IDS acting like a despot and dictator of the worst kind.
A thought occurred to me that has IDS broken any code of conduct here? A very quick google search reveals the Ministerial Code and if we look at 1.2 (j) we find:
j. Ministers must uphold the political impartiality of the civil service and not ask civil servants to act in any way which would conflict with the Civil Service Code as set out in the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010
Yet IDS has allowed the civil servants at the DWP to put blatant political propaganda in an official document. Oh dear IDS you really have dropped a boo boo here haven’t you? Anybody know who is on the standards committee that would look into this?
What about section 3.1 which says: –
3.1 Ministers have a duty to ensure that influence over civil service and public appointments is not abused for partisan purposes
How about section 5.1: –
5.1 Ministers must uphold the political impartiality of the civil service, and not ask civil servants to act in any way which would conflict with the Civil Service Code and the requirements of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010
With all these references to breaching Acts as well has IDS acted unlawfully as well as despotically?
In terms of who IDS is responsible to how about section 1.2 again:
b. Ministers have a duty to Parliament to account, and be held to account, for the policies, decisions and actions of their departments and agencies;
Or in lay terms even if it wasn’t him he is still responsible for the politicisation of his civil servants and responsible for this partisan official documentation.
You know anyone that can rent out a spare room for an ex minister? Come on surely one of you subdised social tenants need a lodger to subdiside your under occupation charge?