Today the Daily Telegraph ran an article about the bedroom tax. The link is here and is a must read. They even called it the ‘bedroom tax’ and this is as serious as it gets for ALL pensioners and for all social landlords.
DO NOT think this is just the mixed-age pensioner couples being hit by the bedroom tax as is well known to be the policy under Universal Credit, this Tory plan in the Daily Torygraph is not about the 70 – 90,000 estimated to be mixed-age pensioner couples, this is about the bedroom tax being applied to 515,000 pensioners who under occupy in social housing.
Let me say that again this plan, the Tory plan is to hit 514,800 pensioners with the bedroom tax.
To explain and to prove that huge figure is simple and is not hyperbole or scaremongering or anything else from me at all. It is a correct extrapolation of what this Telegraph article says.
“Local authorities could save £400 million a year if pensioners’ housing benefits were cut to reflect they have spare bedrooms, under a controversial reform applied to working-age families.”
I have emphasised the £400 million per year for good reason as it explains everything.
The average national bedroom tax deducted per year is £777 and so you divide the £400 million claimed saving by this average figure and you get 514,800 cases, or pensioner households. That is why this is not just the maximum 90,000 estimate that is given for the mixed-age pensioner couple (one partner reaching state pension age and the other not – or cougar and sugar daddy if you will!)
Dividing the claimed £400,000,000 saving by this 90,000 mixed-age pensioner figure would mean a bedroom tax cut of £4,444.44 per year from each pensioner housing benefit claim and the maximum HB deducted being 25% of eligible HB would mean the social housing pensioner paying 4 times this figure (£17,777.77) per year in social rent or the average pensioner paying a weekly social housing rent of £341.88!!
Make no mistake whatsoever this £400 million per year figure the article says it derives from FOI requests can ONLY mean ALL social housing pensioners get hit by the bedroom tax. This is not just the mixed-age couple being hit with the bedroom tax at all.
I have written recently that it is inevitable that the Tories if re-elected would have to go after the pensioner for welfare cuts and that this is not just the mixed-age pensioner couple that I first reported back in November 2011. I was alerted to this article today by the ever reliable Jules Birch who asked if my view was just the mixed age UC pensioner couple. It isn’t as I explain above and why I deliberately started with the £400 million claimed saving which proves that beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Jules Birch also stated that the Tories do like to release welfare policy in the Telegraph and that is undoubtedly true and they tend to use the Mail or Express for kite-flying policy proposals and the Telegraph for far more serious official ‘leaks’ for want of a better term.
The fact the £400 million figure is used and its derivation from FOIs shows this is no simple kite-flying proposal as is the opening of the article – opening as in catch the eye of the reader at the beginning else they don’t read further strategy.
Note the sub copy and dear reader welcome to a term you will now hear from the Tories almost as often as long-term economic plan and that term is INTERGENERATIONAL FAIRNESS.
“Amid growing debate about intergenerational fairness, research shows some pensioners receive housing benefit for six empty bedrooms.”
Dear reader, dear experienced welfare / social policy reader, please advise where you have heard or read a debate about the term ‘intergenerational fairness’ and in relation to welfare benefits? No me neither! This is no kite flying exercise at all, this is serious policy intent to cut pensioner benefits and to discredit the pensioner as well, though in very tame terms compared to the working-age scrounging feckless ne’er do well.
A huge but extremely subtle point and one that bears all the hallmarks of this being drafted by the DWP and not the journalist himself is why I have emphasised the word housing benefit in the above. Housing Benefit is a specific term and included in the headline yet in the article the journalists words of choice is housing benefits (ie plural not singular) and the article is without a doubt penned by more than one author given the way it switches from knowledgable HB speak to generic journospeak.
The £400 million claimed saving is another barb at the pensioner and, more importantly, this article reflects the significant points I made here just a week or so ago that the welfare savings stated and wanted by a future Tory government cannot possibly come from working-age people alone as they do now and because the pensioner receives 68% of the total welfare benefit spend – more than £2 in every £3 in welfare benefits goes to the pensioner.
That same blog of mine included some startling impacts of this for social housing, the social housing model per se and for all social landlords. Social housing has a huge proportion of pensioners as the age chart I used in that piece shows as I reproduce below.
As you can see readily social housing is very ‘top-heavy’ with pensioners compared to the private rented sector (and to which bedroom tax does not apply too) and the 2014 EHS reports that 31% of all social housing tenants are pensioners and the most recent official Housing Benefit figures reveal that of the 4.8 million HB claimants 1.6 million are over 60 or a third of all HB claimants are over 60.
Note too the same latest and final HB statistics before the general election revealed 464,511 households affected by the bedroom tax yet the above Tory plan would add a further 514,800 pensioners to that figure.
Yes that does mean that pensioners are the ones who under occupy most in social housing. The biggest scroungers of this scarce national resource is the pensioner
I strongly suspect it doesn’t mean that social landlords will bombard the pensioner with red-inked letters and doorstep them with demands for them to pay the bedroom tax as they did with working-age social tenants, at least in the beginning, it means that social landlords are in the brownest smelliest stuff possible with this plan. It means the social housing model, that cornerstone of the welfare state, is being removed by the Tories.
Why would any sane politician of any political party want to attack the benefits of the grey vote? And yes it is too simple to say this policy has all the hallmarks of IDS ergo its the policy of the not so sane. That is despite well founded comments that the journalist in question is supposedly IDS’s favourite journalist too.
It did occur to me that this could be that version of a kite flyer which is aired then abandoned if only to soften the blow of the mixed-age pensioner couple. The old Thatcherite black arts trick of leaking a 30% cut to something then the Iron Lady appearing heroic by saying no its only 10%, which of course is still a 10% cut!
But the £400 million figure suggests to me this is much more than that and the fact this £400 million per year figure being explained (albeit with a few problems) and the use of ‘intergenerational fairness’ (and do keep your eye on this term!) all suggest this is 80%+ serious and not the 20% seriousness of a flying kite. For example Cameron has three times raised the we will not pay a penny in HB to under 25s and without success and now appears to be settling for the under 21s despite the fact such a policy only incentivises getting pregnant – but that’s another story.
I keep returning to my post last week about the Osborne bung for pensioners. We will give you £20,000 in the proverbial brown paper bag dear pensioner (and £30k if in London) as a carrot for giving up your underoccupied social housing property ELSE we will hit you with the bedroom tax. That was the gist of the piece I wrote and now my interpretation of this Osborne bung makes absolutely perfect sense.
Dear Old Mrs Jones will now go for this no brainer of a bung to leave her council house. £20,000 is the equivalent of 25 years of bedroom tax at £777 per year, the now national average. How long before IDS trots out we have to be firm as well as fair and we did offer you a nice brown paper bag bung to give up your costly to heat far too large property for you Mrs Jones lines come out of Tory HQ. Remember Mrs Jones we have committed to the triple lock but we are all in this together after all so lets use that Dunkirk spirit.
Oh and by the way Mrs Jones you no longer need that annuity you can take it all in a lump sum as after all it is your money youve been thrifty in saving and the nice little £20k we are giving you will mean you can buy that little cottage with the roses around the door and not have to worry about all those young hoodies on that council estate you’ve suffered for all these years. We Tories are giving you choice and opportunity, blah, blah, bullshit, blah!!!
In summary, this is a serious policy proposal not a flying kite and ALL pensioners have a choice if the Tories remain in power – move to your dream retirement home and take our bung or we will hammer you, ALL of you not just the cougars and sugar daddys, with the bedroom tax….then the benefit cap, then …..whatever the hell we like the precedent is set.
PS – Social landlords – Most of you chose to label my rants against your indifference and apathy in challenging the welfare reforms and my comments that they are individually and collectively a massive predetermined attack on social housing as ME being political!!
Wake the f*ck up! Who is being political and who is systematically and increasingly attacking social housing ain’t me !!
Just as a footnote the DWP official figures for 2013/14 total the welfare spend at £163 billion of which 32% only goes to those of working age – or £52 billion.
The Tories have said they want £25 billion of further welfare benefit cuts. Anyone who thinks Tories can take £25 billion just off the £52 billion paid to working-age is living in Cloud Cuckoo Land.
The Tories HAVE TO reduce pensioner benefits to achieve this £25 billion of cuts – and this is only £0.4 billion- or just 1.6% of the overall welfare benefit cuts they need to meet that commitment (Less the £184 million bung of course)
Heres the DWP £163 billion figure
As you can see these are official DWP figures – and as for the 68% going to pensioners and 32% only going to working-age here is what our old friend IDS says:
Note thats an official answer to a written question £54 billion on working-age (31.76%) and £116 billion on pensioners (68.24%) of the £170 billion cost for £2015 which is a 4.3% overall increase too on the £163 billion figure from the year before – And there was you and I thinking IDS has cut the welfare bill….well he does tell us all the time he has….and yes this is an increase way above inflation!
Have a nice simple graph to stop boring yourselves having to read figures dear reader! This is a picture so that even Osborne can understand exactly what IDS said above in his parliamentary written answer!
A tiny percentage or in fact 3 out of 15000 who have seen this query my figures re the £400 million which when divided by £777 gives the half a million plus households affected.
What does the Telegraph say in the article? Yes it confirms my method and veracity of my figures:
Glasgow said £8.700,000 saving from 14,500 cases = £600 per case on average (Glasgow avg. DWP data = £618 per case)
Manchester said £6,900,000 from 8,911 cases = £774 per case (Manchester avg DWP data = £710 per case)
Wandsworth said £168,000 from 140 cases = £1200 per case (Wandsworth avg DWP data = £1252 per case)
All broadly similar and nowhere near the £4,444.44 per case this £400 million would mean for just the circa 90,000 estimated mixed-age pensioner couple – QED – (And each LA area has a different 14% and 25% bedroom tax split which easily explains the 9% variance in the Manchester figure above)
One of these days I will be able to write a blog so that even the most innumerate can pick up a Poundland calculator and do a 20 second calculation. Perhaps I shall call it the IDS-Osborne Method!
FINAL (?) UPDATE – Late Thursday evening 26 February
The Telegraph journalist sends me a message on Twitter and to others who retweeted this post (and good luck with that as there are thousands!) claiming that my ‘misrepresentation’ of his purely ‘intellectual’ article was deliberately worrying frightened people!
Yes that was me that drafted the Telegraph article which raised this issue and frightened pensioners in the first place and I who stated they swim around in £4m London properties with 5 or 6 spare bedrooms that the state is paying for wasn’t it?
I have clearly hit some very raw nerves and the journalist not only blames me he also has the gall to say he is certain there is no such Tory policy to impose the bedroom tax on pensioners. How reassuring we must all feel thanks to Mr ****house!
It is apparently ok for a professional journalist to cause alarm in a national newspaper which frightens pensioners but woe betide a mere ‘amateur’ blogger for interpreting his data, however correctly, as I do above. To them blame me for frightening pensioners (and probably the entire social housing sector) and then to say I and all the 50,000 or so that have read this post should be reassured by him as he has the inside track on Conservative policy reveals more about this journalists ethics and conceit.
What a pompous twat!
The one thing any reader should take from this is the figures above of £170 billion total welfare bill of which £116 billion goes to the (protected) pensioner and £54 billion to the (unprotected) working-age claimant. The Tories have said they require £25 billion of welfare savings.
Anyone think the Tories can find £25 billion in savings purely from the £54 billion working-age welfare spend?
Of course not and the Tories will have to reduce and cut pensioner benefits to achieve that stated target for cuts.
Oh dear the pompous, intellectual Mr Holehouse has through HIS efforts at least assured everyone that the Tories WILL be cutting the pensioner welfare spend!
A linked post to this that explains why it is inevitable that the pensioner will face welfare benefit cuts after the election is here