What I really think about the bedroom tax
The bedroom tax does not affect me as I am not a social tenant yet that still does not stop me from seeing it as pernicious, nasty and especially ill conceived and not thought through. It is a dog’s breakfast of a policy.
It is not fair. It will not save the public purse money, it will increase it. It is not the same as the lot of the private tenant, who in any case costs the public purse £2.17bn more than the social tenant. It will not free up social housing and about 1% will move meaning 99% will not. Its decision-making process is so irrational that it may well be legally irrational, a notoriously difficult argument to have accepted. It is a dog’s breakfast of a policy.
Last year some 200,000 welfare benefit appeals were made for ALL benefits (JSA/IS/DLA etc) including Housing Benefit. If all 660,000 affected launch a formal appeal it quadruples that workload and public purse cost – and all 660,000 should as they have legitimate cause and good grounds to appeal. It will cost local government and local taxpayers millions if not a billion pounds or more to defend. It will cost social landlords hundreds of millions too in arrears and eviction costs. It will then cost local councils and central government millions if not billions more in homelessness assessment costs and homelessness temporary accommodation provision. It will cost the NHS millions more too such is the stress and anxiety it creates. It will significantly increase domestic violence and abuse occurrences due to the financial stress which always sees this rise. It will cost Police budgets hundreds of millions more and also NHS more because of the increase in domestic violence and abuse. It is a dog’s breakfast.
All of the above I have discussed in more detail in literally dozens of posts about the bedroom tax and these collectively reveal the huge lack of any pre-thought in this hugely politically motivated policy that has no economic or financial rational basis. The alleged impact assessment the coalition claim to have done even says they have no idea how the policy will impact on gender or on ethnicity or on disability issues and that is an affront to democracy itself. Introducing a policy on a let’s wait and see basis is incredibly dangerous governing. It is a dog’s breakfast.
Yet this is being ‘sold’ to the general public by this government as being fair and equitable and right. It is none of those things at all.
The coalition government hoped that the bedroom tax media frenzy would go away with some minor concessions. But it has not. The estimated 5000 Foster carers may need two bedrooms as foster care says each child needs their own. There was only ever a tiny amount of soldiers who live at home with parents who claim Housing Benefit. The severely disabled child is NOT exempt unless the local council agrees and this is on a case by case basis. Yet the media frenzy has not gone away and still we have 99% of the original 660,000 affected – these were very minor concesssions at all and of very little consequence.
You can’t call it a TAX it is not a tax shout the government. What would Labour do about it is another argument put forward. Both are side shows aimed at deflecting debate away from the issues the bedroom tax raises, and they are huge in number. The same as the BBC is not covering the bedroom tax protests which was a hugely valid claim yesterday across all social media sites. But again that is a side show and deflects away from the issues.
Stay focused on these issues and stay focused upon how to fight this pernicious policy. If everyone does appeal – and it costs nothing to appeal – the system goes into meltdown and the bedroom tax will be long gone before the next election in May 2015 so what the opposition parties will or will not do is of no bloody consequence is it?
The bedroom tax policy is much more of a dog’s breakfast then the Poll Tax ever was and rightly deserves to be met with as much lawful civil disobedience as possible. When you have someone like Frank Field MP, perhaps one of THE most respected politicians in parliament on welfare benefit issues and far to the right of the Labour Party, saying it is the worst welfare policy he has ever known and advocating bizarre direct actions such as bricking up bedroom doorways or even knocking down walls of bedrooms to make them not even rooms, then the coalition government knows they are deeply in the political brown smelly stuff over the bedroom tax.
The power to change this DOES lie with the social tenant who individually and collectively has the legal right to challenge and appeal the decisions this pernicious policy makes and gives from the ‘lowly’ HB officer or HBO.
Just how can it be right that a ‘lowly’ HBO can decide what a bedroom IS when there is no legal definition of a bedroom and such a definition would tax the most learned legal minds in the country? That is what I mean by ‘lowly.’ A decision which can result in an individual having to pay £14 per week from their £71 per week dole to keep a roof over their head? This leaves the benefit claimant with 20% less than the minimum subsistence level to subsist, or live on. This is no ordinary straightforward run of the mill welfare benefit decision at all – Yet it is taken by a HBO in a desktop exercise behind closed doors without ever knowing or seeing whether the tenant actually has the number of bedrooms, however defined, it is said by others that tenant has?
How can and how dare IDS as the Secretary of State responsible put the lowly HBO in such a position! And make no mistake that is exactly what he has done – place a HBO in a position where he or she has to make a life-changing decision for a vulnerable person based on inadequate information. The A4/2012 HB circular is not just mere guidance: It runs to 48 pages of highly prescriptive direction from the Secretary of State and even steers the HBO from NOT writing to the tenant as this is not ease of administration or cost-effective.
That is outrageous and a disgrace of the highest proportions. A HBO should not have made any decision on the bedroom tax applicability given its context of placing vulnerable people way below the minimum subsistence level because no such decision taken can be relied upon as being correct or determined correctly. Every bedroom tax ‘decision’ is at most a good guess and not a correctly determined result based on full consideration of the facts of each case. Instead the decision-making process is so irrational and so prescriptively steered by the Secretary of State, often down very dodgy legal paths, that each one of the bedroom tax ‘decisions’ is fundamentally flawed. Every one of the 660,000 bedroom tax decisions made by using this irrational decision-making process results in 660,000 legally irrational decisions, and every one of them demands a formal appeal must be launched.
The bedroom tax policy is a dog’s breakfast? Yes you’re right I am giving it too much praise as it is not even that good.
Whether you are hard left or hard right or anywhere in between in terms of political persuasion the bedroom tax is incredibly bad law and bad policy. It is the policy of the despot and not the democrat and it won’t achieve public purse savings at all and in no way can it be said it is equitable or fair.
Just in whose interest is it to take £8.2m out of the local economy in Liverpool for example? Will the social tenant and their children suffer? Yes, but then so will many local businesses too, as will so many local taxpayers who will rightly be angered that the City Council will have to spend £18m of its budget defending these legally and economically irrational bedroom tax decisions at court. That simple but nonetheless valid argument shows how so little pre-thought was given to this dogma inspired policy dreamed up on the back of a fag packet. How many reduced services will your local council have and how much will next year’s Council Tax have to increase by to pay for all of this?
Local government had no choice but to make these irrational bedroom tax decisions as they were imposed upon them by central government’s bad policy; yet they have absolute choice about whether to incur huge expenditure in defending them at court. It is their choice and their choice alone and that choice must be to NOT go to the equally irrational and absurd choice of incurring even more financial damage to the local economy of every locale in the country.
Is there a single person in the country outside of Iain Duncan Smith who still thinks the bedroom tax policy is fair and right? There cannot be else they would not be thinking at all.