Cover your cock up IDS and no, we wont be on our knees!

On 3rd March Iain Duncan Smith will lay a statutory instrument before Parliament to, in his language, close the loophole for the pre 1996 exempt bedroom tax households which has seen 40,000 plus families unlawfully penalised with the bedroom tax this year.

That’s not a loophole its a monumental cock up or is it a ‘small’ issue as the DWP claims with their estimate of 3000 – 5000 families having wrongly been imposed with the bedroom tax when they were not liable.

The real number is 10 times that amount and another way to look at this is that the DWP error has seen £30m or so unlawfully taken away from vulnerable families who as a result have been threatened with losing the roof over their head; their family home for at least the last 18 years.

Imagine your family home being threatened because of a government cock up and ask yourself how you would feel about that!  Pretty sure you would be angry, in fact very angry indeed and looking to shout this from the highest height and seeking compensation for the financial pain and unbelievably high stress levels this would have caused.

Yet IDS is hoping nobody notices or lays blame at his and the DWP door and not just that but he will do so without any consultation or discussion or debate whatsoever.

Every statutory instrument – a change in legislation – has a preamble which says the Secretary of State has consulted those who he sees fit ahead of this change yet here we see no consultation at all, just a minister seeking to cover up a cock up that he has made and his department has made, and lets be honest taking £30m unlawfully from vulnerable people is hardly not a cock up and is hardly a small issue!

Yet IDS is now imposing a law change that will make it lawful to do just that and without any consultation at all. Some suggest that IDS can do this and the only challenge to this is a prayer to the House of Lords.  If this reads like a tin-pot dictatorship and not good old blighty then open your eyes reader for this is the affront to democracy we have here in Britain.

However, Parliamentary rules suggest this is not the case and that this negative procedure variant of a Statutory instrument can be challenged by the Commons or the Lords and can be annulled

There are two types of Statutory Instrument (SI): Affirmative instruments: Both Houses of Parliament must expressly approve them Negative instruments: become law without a debate or a vote but may be annulled by a resolution of either House of Parliament In both cases, Parliaments room for manoeuvre is limited. Parliament can accept or reject an SI but cannot amend it.

So what is the issue?

40,000 households or 100,000 men women and children as all in those households feel the effects of this unlawful bedroom tax deduction.  Yet upon finding out his policy was inept and ill thought through and revealing that he unlawfully imposed this pernicious deduction IDS attempts to belittle this huge error by saying its just a loophole and hopes he will take attention away from the stresses his policy has put those families to;

  • the necessity to skip one meal a day because they cannot afford;
  • the inability to put the heating on as they cannot afford;
  • the damage to their health skipping one meal a day has already caused, permanent health damage;
  • probably some Wonga or similar loan shark arrangements taken out just to see the kids have a school uniform in September and of course the stress and strain all of this puts on the family itself.

That’s no loophole or a small matter IDS and you saying it is exposes the inept arrogance you have.

So what can we do?

Last week I was sitting around a table with some very influential people who are opposed to the bedroom tax and always have been.  There is universal agreement that the bedroom tax is on its knees and we should all in whatever ways possible campaign urgently to get rid of this pernicious policy.  We all smell blood and agree we should go in for the kill.

The monumental cock up over the pre-1996 exempt position is an opportunity to do just that and on the same day Scotland announced that 10,000 tenants will be exempt and the week before we had the Upper Tribunal ruling in Bolton which defined ‘bedroom’ (which in my view is even bigger than the pre 1996 issue and I will cover separately.)

One of the attendees was my local grassroots group Reclaim whose data was of great interest to the rest of the delegates there.  Reclaim had asked pre-1996 tenants in December to email them with their initials and their post code  and they looked at the first 250 or so households who were unlawfully hit with this bedroom tax:

  • Two-thirds were women
  • 87% were long-term sick or disabled
  • One in 6 were carers for a family member

The data above reveals why IDS is rushing headlong into changing the law without consultation.

  • Imagine how much uproar that womens lobbies would have with this as they are twice as like to be affected by the is than men.  Lets hope that is precisely what they will do.
  • Imagine the furore that disability lobbies will make of this and they should too as almost 9 in every 10 households affected is that ugly term the ‘disabled household!’
  • Carer groups and lobbies will be in uproar and should do the same too – make a lot of noise about this.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the above are vulnerable groups and that the womens, disabilities and carers lobbies can and do have the opportunity to exert pressure in an attempt to prevent IDS covering up his cock up and doing so without any consultation or debate.

Yet that is just one example of one type of challenge.

The Parliamentary Ombudsman is another challenge to this pre-1996 issue.  In simple terms the DWP has admitted liability for this cock up with the U1/2014 HB circular.  This is also a DWP admission of maladministration on their part and there is no doubt the unlawful deductions of bedroom tax have caused widespread injustice.  This week a standard template letter of complaint of DWP maladministration will be issued so that all tenants can lodge such a complaint.

The procedure for a Parliamentary Ombudsman complaint is very interesting indeed!  The tenant fills in the template letter and then sends to the DWP.  If the DWP do not respond within a reasonable time or if the tenant is unhappy with the DWP response, then the tenant asks their MP to launch a Parliamentary Ombudsman complaint against the DWP’s monumental cock up in the pre 1996 issue.

Now you see why Reclaim asked these tenants for their post code and it has a list of hundred of MPs who represent these exempt tenants wrongly imposed with the bedroom tax.  Can you imagine a Labour MP rising in the Commons to announce that today (s)he is issuing a complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsman on behalf of x number of  constituents ove the cock up DWP made over the bedroom tax!  That will be some powerful visual imagery when covered by the TV cameras.

Secondly, surely a MP cannot refuse to take up such a complaint on behalf of his or her constituents?  We shall see as there are exempt pre 1996 tenants found in Chingford with their MP being none other than IDS and IDS will have to take up such a complaint on behalf of his constituents against his own departments cock up!!  So too will Esther McVey in her Wirral west constituency, though I doubt wither of these MPs will announce it in the commons.  Yet as the MPs who could read like a who’s who of the Labour front and back benches I am pretty confident many opposition MPs will take such an opportunity to announce this in the commons!

There are so many more campaigns ongoing this month and ahead of this despotic legislative change IDS seeks to make without any fuss or any debate or any consultation…and from so many persons and organisations and from all sides.  Many I know of I have not mentioned above for a variety of reasons yet the bedroom tax is now a deeply wounded animal and  needs all actors to rise up and hammer home the nails in its coffin.

The power and pressures that can be brought to bear by women’s, disability and care lobbies should be exerted over the discriminatory nature of this.  So should whatever power all opposition parties can bring to bear and the same with unions and others who are resolutely opposed to this pernicious policy.

The Scottish government has already said the bedroom tax will cost the public purse more than it could have ever possibly saved and that leaves open the door for further economic arguments against the bedroom tax.

The smell of the bedroom tax blood is there and real and needs action.  However if you think all you have is a prayer then you will be on your knees as IDS covers his cock up in front of you!

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21 thoughts on “Cover your cock up IDS and no, we wont be on our knees!

  1. I think that this is way beyond commentary, that nothing will change until direct action…

    For example do you think that IDS et al would notice if the poor, homeless and other victims created tent cities outside the front doors of the home addresses of every cabinet minister? Peacefully, Ghandi style of course.

    The homes tend to be in very pleasant places with neighbours who would not tolerate anything that might disturb their bucolic life styles, the effects on property prices/land values, the frights visited on their children horses etc.

    http://www.iainduncansmith.org.uk/

  2. Excellent post. Thank you Joe.
    What concerns me, is that, many, many of us have Tory MP’s.
    Can they refuse to contact the Parliamentary Ombudsman. On our behalf??
    IF so, what can we do then??
    Just hope that Labour MP’s will take this up on our behalf??
    After all, they should be ‘earning’ their wages and expense accounts.

    And, some how, we need to produce a list of groups to contact on the PRE 1996 issue.
    Who, are not yet aware of it’s existence???

  3. BROKEN BRITISH POLITICS – IDS THICKER SKINNED THAN A RHINO
    No wonder ID Smith was the ideal man for the DWP job ,he is either lacking mental ability or his skin is as thick as a Rhino’s or both .The vote of no confidence against him he tried to brush aside .
    Under leadership vote of confidence rules, 15% of Conservative MPs (at this point twenty-five MPs) had to write to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee demanding the vote. On 26 October, amid mounting claims that the threshold of 25 was about to be reached, Duncan Smith made an appearance on television daring his opponents to show their hand by the evening of 29 October or to withdraw their challenge. He also stated that he would not step down if a vote was called. Duncan Smith’s demand that 25 MPs write to the chairman by 29 October had no bearing on party regulations. Had the votes not been delivered until later, the vote of no confidence would still have gone ahead. Nevertheless, by 28 October, 25 Conservative MPs had indeed signed on to demand a vote.
    After the vote was announced, Duncan Smith made an appearance in front of Conservative Party headquarters in Smith Square, where he stated that he was “absolutely” going to contest the vote, which was held on 29 October. He lost by 90 votes to 75. He stepped down as leader eight days later when Michael Howard was confirmed as his successor (Howard was unopposed for the role and so no election was required).
    http://brokenbritishpolitics ,simplesite.com

  4. I really do despair of IDS and the whole of parliament. From the minute the coalition came to power they have changed laws on whims whenever it suited them while, at the same time, removing legal options to those who can’t afford private lawyers. We should have known what was going to happen when the first thing they did was to change the law so that the government could not be ousted before the full 5-year term was up. I watched some of IDS’s performance on Monday and was sickened. How the excellent Ann Begg managed to keep so cool and polite in the face of such disdain, I don’t know.

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