The Labour Party are as I write (4pm) using an Opposition Day debate on getting rid of the bedroom tax. I should be delighted at that. Yet they are the most incompetent ineffectual buffoons who do not know anything about the bedroom tax or about how to argue for its demise.
The Labour Party are more content to isolate the Liberal Democrats on this debate than to get rid of the policy. That assertion is, regrettably, easily proved as the BEDROOM TAX COSTS MORE!
On a few occasions in the past 18 months I have sat down with others at a high level in housing to address the simple question – Does the bedroom tax actually save money? The issue being if it does not then the pain and misery it causes mean the policy is massively misguided. Or put another way prove the policy actually costs money and then the coalition who maintain it does save money have no basis to continue with it.
Yet the Labour Party, Her Majesty’s Official Opposition, acquiesce to the coalition argument that is does save money when it is EASILY proved that it does not. The fact that Labour fail to see the bedroom tax actually COSTS reveals their intention here smacks of political opportunism and incompetence.
Why does the bedroom tax cost more?
The bedroom tax is one of 4 welfare reform policies aimed at reducing the HB bill. The other being the benefit cap, the LHA caps on private rented and the increase in the Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR) from under 25 to under 35. All four of those policies, individually and collectively, are aimed at reducing the Housing Benefit bill.
Obviously if the HB bill has increased since their introduction then these 4 policies have failed as they HB bill has not reduced.
That is the simple and obvious argument which if all other factors being the same MUST be true. Yet as I explain below it is even worse than that as these other factors should have reduced the overall HB bill even further yet it has INCREASED and that MUST mean the bedroom tax and 3 other welfare reforms mentioned have failed and DO NOT SAVE MONEY.
Overall HB bill April 2013 to August 2014
The bedroom tax and in part the benefit cap became operational in April 2013. The LHA cap and SAR from 1 January 2012. The August 2014 date is used as this is the latest official data set – the latest figures.
Hence as all of these policies have been operational in full or in part since April 2013 we can compare the HB bill then with the latest figures to reveal whether these 4 policies have reduced or increased the HB bill. That is a very simple yet valid comparison and yes I will include inflation too.
- April 2013 had 5,062,172 claimants each receiving an average of £89.24 to make £23.6bn overall
- Aug 2014 saw 4,930,162 claimants at £93.05 to make £23.9bn overall cost.
The coalition argument that the bedroom tax et al save money would see the overall HB bill reduce. as that is the stated purpose. Yet it has increased by £300 million and not fallen. Note well too there are 132,010 fewer claimants too in August 2014 so the bill should have fallen by £615 million for that alone to a figure of £22.9bn. Yet it has increased by £1bn to £23.9bn.
Have these claimed savings by the coalition just disappeared into the ether? Clearly not and Mark Harper today restated what IDS said a week or so back that the bedroom tax, and note bedroom tax alone, has saved £830m so far based on their ‘view’ of a £500m per year saving.
Yet the official HB figures do not show 83 pence worth of savings let alone £830 million and in fact they show the HB bill has increased not fallen at all.
Rachel Reeves, Labour Party’s IDS equivalent said nothing about these claimed savings. In fact when Mark Harper mentioned his patently false view that the bedroom tax has saved £830m he then challenged Rachel Reeves to say where the money would come from to repeal the bedroom tax. Rachel (dimwit) Reeves then proceeded to say where from.
Yet in doing so she acquiesced to the easily disproven lie of the coalition that the bedroom tax saves money – a huge political error and huge ineptitude and incompetence on her and the Labour Party’s part!
If she knew the facts these official figures show – and they are the official HB figures produced by the DWP – there would be no need to say where savings would come from to pay for the repeal of the bedroom tax as there is no savings from elsewhere needed!!!!
The bedroom tax AND the 3 other welfare reform policies of benefit cap, LHA cap and SAR do NOT save a penny to the public purse and even allowing for inflation they collectively COST MORE!!!!
The Labour Party and in particular Rachel Reeves is incompetent, ineffective and has thrown away a huge chance to get rid of the bedroom tax and discredit the coalition lie that it saves money. So whether the Labour Party motive is opportunistic or principled, they have well and truly fucked up!!
I mentioned above some ‘high powered’ meetings took place with housing leaders to look at the claimed savings issue. They were, in hindsight being too clever for their own good. We went into huge depth of how the bedroom tax in theory reduce central government spend even after DHP and other central government costs (Tribunals etc) and most of the additional costs were in essence transferred to local government such as higher HB and admin costs.
Yet IF the bedroom tax and other policies aimed at reducing HB actually SAVED then they would be reflected in the simple overall HB cost as given above. They would have to after taking out any matters not on a like-for-like basis and accounting for inflation etc.
Perhaps, the Labour Party strategists and bean counters had similarly been looking too deeply and got wrapped up in those extremely complex and difficult financial arguments. They did not need to (and yes I slap my own wrists for that!) and I only saw the argument a month or so ago when I published a blog about it.
ANY financial savings from the bedroom tax would HAVE to show in the simple overall cost figure as would any savings from the benefit cap, LHA cap and SAR policies. Yet no savings exist even after inflation and taking away any other non like-for-like matter.
In addition there are the £115m added cost of DHP to be set against this lack of savings and they increase the overall COST of the policy too (£50m in 2013/14 and £65m both for bedroom tax alone in DHP). Then of course the added cost of tribunals etc all add to the additional cost to central government of the bedroom tax and then there is the added cost of HB administration and increased homeless presentations and homeless temporary accommodation to local government to add too.
Considered in this correct way, I doubt even the most hardline Tory could present a cogent argument that the bedroom tax has saved money. It simply has not. Yet the real issue is why Her Majesty’s Official Opposition in the Labour Party with all its stated opposition to the policy and its many resources it has to research, unilaterally failed to see the bloody obvious!
The Labour Party today, and Rachel Reeves is ultimately responsible here, let down 480,000 households or about 1.2 million men, women and children that live in these bedroom taxed households by NOT seeing the argument and by not promoting it. That is rank ineptitude and especially after their social media campaign which saw over 100,000 sign their opposition to this pernicious and FINANCIALLY COSTLY policy.