You can imagine the last Labour Party strategy meeting – Hey if we come out against this the bedroom tax thingy we may get some new members and a few votes.
Cynical? Perhaps but as I explain below their arguments against the bedroom tax in the HoC debate Tuesday were woeful and incomplete demonstrating just how little they know about the bedroom tax demonstrate they just don’t get it.
A few of the many arguments they failed to mention:
1. There are NO exemptions whatsoever for disabled persons!
There are discretionary exemptions local councils may give for an additional room for an overnight carer yet at best that is a discretionary act and NOT an exemption.
2. A bedroom for an overnight carer is ONLY allowed for the tenant or the tenant’s partner and nobody else in the household.
Kate Green mentioned it doesn’t apply for a child but failed to mention it doesn’t apply for anyone else in the household such as a disabled adult not the tenant or partner.
3. A disabled child is NOT exempt
The Gorry case said that a severely disabled child may have a bedroom of their own. Yet this is up to the local council HB department to decide if the child is ‘disabled enough’ (just how a HB officer decides that is another matter!) and this is NOT an exemption either and again is at the discretion of each local council.
4. The private rented sector receives £2.17bn more in housing benefit for the same number of properties than
- So much was made by the government benches of social housing being subsidised yet it receives £1.2bn per year which extrapolates to just £6.05 per property per week.
- The average social housing rent (2012 EHS figures) is £83 per week and the average private rent is £164 per week and twice as much. The private tenant receives more in housing benefit for its 1.7m claimants which amounts to £2.17bn more per year.
- Hence the social rented sector (SRS) receives £1.2bn per year of capital subsidy that the private rented sector does not get but the private rented sector (PRS) receives £2.17bn MORE in revenue subsidy.
- If SRS tenants received the same as PRS tenants in housing benefit the overall bill would be £4.5bn per year higher than it is now.
- Hence the £1.2bn capita subsidy the SRS receives saves the country £4.5bn per year in housing benefit and so it is a very cost-effective ‘invest to save’ programme.
- Extrapolated the subsidy social housing gets actually SAVES every taxpayer £170 per year in tax
5. Spare Room Subsidy?
As the HB deduction can ONLY be applied if the tenant has a spare bedroom and not a spare toilet or scullery or any other form of mere ‘room’ the coalition moniker for the bedroom tax is a misnomer
Tax? Only on earned income the coalition claims so it’s not a tax. Thank you so the tax you deduct at source from the interest (unearned income) on my savings account is not a tax so may I have it back please!
6. 660,000 PEOPLE affected?
This was stated by so many Labour and opposition MPs but it too is false. There are 660,000 HOUSEHOLDS affected and given the life-changing impacts the bedroom tax has then all in those households are affected. At an average 2.4 per household it is 1.6 million men women and children that are affected directly by the policy.
I could go on with many more points not mentioned and when I receive the full Hansard transcript I will do so.
What this ten minute draft shows above is that the Labour Party was unprepared and did not know the full implications of the bedroom tax or what the policy actually says. Some Labour MPs did and honourable mentions go to the usual suspects such as Karen Buck and a few others but frankly it as disjointed and amateurish as hell. Six hours to get ALL the points across and they never did and that is not just remiss it is inept.
So many more points spring to mind too. Steve Webb, deputising for the absent by fright IDS did a robust attack on Labour citing they didn’t care about (a) overcrowded tenants and (b) the private tenant.
Any Labour MP that knew his or her brief could easily have replied the English Housing Survey the official publication of CLG where housing sits says 10% of SRS properties are under occupied yet 16% of PRS properties are – so its 60% HIGHER in private than social rented.
Any Labour MP could have reminded Steve Webb it is his coalition which raised the shared accommodation rate (SAR) from under 25s to under 35s and reduced LHA to the 30TH percentile from the 50th percentile – or at least that we pay £2.17bn per year MORE to the private tenant. Yet of course as they did not know their brief they did not do this.
You still think I was cynical stating the Labour Party rationale was let’s jump on this bandwagon there’s a few votes in it for us? If so that just means they are well-meaning incompetents then doesn’t it?
PS – They didnt even mention that McVey knowingly lied to parliament in the last bedroom tax debate when she said there were 1m spare bedrooms in social housing working-age tenants
PPS – Or that the amount a single PRS tenant receives in housing benefit would pay for a 3 bed SRS property anywhere in the country
PPPS – Nah why bother you get the picture reader – utter rank incompetence that we have come to expect from the Labour Party in the bedroom tax.