Bastard n. – illegitimate
The Welfare Reform Act of which the bedroom tax is part had huge numbers of debates and I think was knocked back on 8 occasions (?) by the House of Lords before the coalition steamrollered it through using financial privilege. It received Royal Assent I recall in March 2012 and then in June 2012 the DWP published what it alleged was an impact assessment.
Any decision and one that involves radical change by any individual, organisation or government should be considered as to the impacts and consequences of that decision before the decision is taken. That is what an impact assessment does and is commonsense and also stating the obvious and it is an essential part of democracy and democratic legitimacy . Yet the June 2012 alleged impact assessment by the DWP into the bedroom tax stated it did not know what the impact of the bedroom tax policy would be on gender, race or disability.
I often get stereotyped as some ‘lefty’ against this coalition and especially against the bedroom tax yet those who make this false presumption clearly haven’t read how I constantly attacked the last Labour government over the Supporting People programme or SP which included being ‘asked’ to come into the ODPM as was now CLG and ‘asked’ to tone down my comments and offered employment by the department in order to silence my dissention to SP. In short, I challenge any policy of any government which shafts vulnerable people.
Check out my Twitter alter ego SpeyeJoe (yes keeping an eye of SP) and it reads: –
Housing consultant either a lateral thinker or i’m planking – hates ANY vulnerable people being shafted by ANY incompetent govt.
So my real concern is or at least starts from an apolitical perspective and my first degree being in Politics means I have high regard for democracy and democratic legitimacy. In the bedroom tax and to preserve any ounce of legitimacy the policy was implemented on the condition that an ongoing monitoring of it would take place.
The result, and very late and out-of-date result was the sham that appeared yesterday. A report without any legitimacy – a bastard of a report in other words.
No government should impose a policy that is at the same time radical in changes sought and irrational in how it is to be implemented and operated without forethought. Yet that aptly describes the bedroom tax in seeking radical change of social housing and the social housing model and rides roughshod over vulnerable people and all based on local government believing the word of a social landlord out of expedience when the same local government officials would not dream of believing the word of a private landlord: Indeed the local government decision-making officers are guided in regulations to seek independent assessment of what a bedroom is and how many a property has through the Rent Officer service yet are disallowed from doing the same for a social tenant.
Instead a life-changing cut in benefit is imposed on the social tenant on this flimsy and irrational and illegitimate way. Again, in simple terms, the bedroom tax tenant is shafted and while the report includes the consequences of this with so many tenants choosing to heat or eat and go without other necessities that is just reporting of what we have all known for a long time.
The report – the illegitimate or bastard report – holds no recommendations at all either. Yet surely that must have been the purpose and the only legitimate purpose of allowing a policy to go ahead with ongoing monitoring in that the evaluation would provide recommendations for change, yet it does no such thing.
In summary the bedroom tax policy only had any semblance of legitimacy in being implemented dependent upon iterative oversight and that has not happened. The same report also says the next report will be in 2015 and we know from Steve Webb ex-minister at DWP that this will be in summer of 2015 and critically, after the next election. The British public and the great democratic history of the country has been duped by this government and yes they are a bastard of a government for that. Three full years and more of an ill-considered and dangerous policy with no legitimacy whatsoever is what we have in the bedroom tax.
Doubtless after yesterday’s reshuffle which was used to mask this bastard of a report we will see a more Eurosceptic government which will shout about the ‘democratic deficit’ at the heart of the European Union while conveniently ignoring its own bedroom tax policy has even less democratic legitimacy than the EU.
Plus ca change ou l’etat c’est moi mon cher lecteur?