Sunday, 17 February 2013

The Bedroom Tax: We'll End Up Eating Horses

There is a lot of confusion around about this Bedroom Tax. I understand I will not be affected. Those that are will be because they live in registered social housing or council housing - social housing being the privatised (or otherwise) substitute for council housing. This is where the Housing Benefit is paid to those that rent out the property. Those who receive Local Housing Allowance and then pay it to their landlord are not affected, as it is already based on the number of bedrooms.

I have heard that charity housing is affected - well, yes, if it is as social housing and no if it is not. I have heard that the private rented sector is affected, but then this does not explain how the bill for Housing Benefit can go up as a result of this legislation, not down. People forced out of social housing who then rent privately may well find themselves receiving more in LHA than used to be paid within the social housing sector, thus forcing the overall bill up. There has been conversation about housing providers outside social housing who can shuffle their tenants around into one and two bedroomed properties: but the LHA paid is already based on bedrooms needed.

I have looked at the same websites as other people, and there is an absence of explanation. What also is the case is a lot of ostrich-like activity. Ahead of this appalling tax, people are sticking their heads in the sand.

The deduction in direct benefit is discriminatory. It is so because it does not affect pensioners. Incidentally, after his mother died my (divorced from mother) father occupied a London council house. He was at pension age. They managed to move him out to pensioner-suitable accommodation and released the house to a family. There is nothing new in this. It is the manner in which it is being done. It is also discriminatory because it only affects those in social and council housing.

It is against human rights because it denies people a family life. The extra room is a necessity because that is where the grandparents stay, where the children of extended families come to stay and also, for people with various disabilities, where the carer can stay. There are also married couples who need to sleep in separate rooms because one of them has a medical condition that affects the peace of the other. So this is a horrible, vindictive law.

On BBC 1 Question Time on Thursday 14th, George Galloway MP said this is Cameron's Poll Tax. The reason he said it is because he is in touch with what people are saying. Whatever one thinks of him, he is someone who keeps in touch via social media and mass media. He knows what people are talking about, and the political class is yet to catch up - as they also have their head in the sands.

Now I could be wrong about who gets affected, and this level of uncertainty is what is driving some of the worry. But not to be included is almost as guilt-making as being included, in simply asking why. Indeed, as the courts start to slap this down, if popular reaction doesn't do it first, the danger is that the discrimination is answered by its extension not by its removal. People, though, right at the bottom, have little to live on as it is and this massive cut into their money (added by the new Council Tax claims on the very same people) is going to leave many destitute. They are being given the private sector as a kind of escape, to release social housing, but the escape route could be removed.

On that same programme the Liberal Democrat was more right wing than the Tory. She was generally sickening in tone and content. This Bedroom Tax is just one more reason why we were fooled by the Liberal Democrats at the last election. I voted for them on the basis of their manifesto, but they turned out not just to compromise with the Tories but have enthusiastically joined in. Who'd have thought it that Liberal Democrats would have come up with something like this Bedroom Tax? I shall never vote for them again unless there is root and branch removal of key personnel and a policy overhaul, and significant apologies. I voted for them to keep the Tores out, not to have the worst Tories with Liberal Democrats ever seen.

Nigel Farage decided he had other things on his mind, so Eastleigh at best is likely to grind itself down into a stalemate. If you were a Lib Dem like me, you'd vote Labour or Green now. Other Lib Dems might vote Tory, to have the real version. But then the Liberal Democrats are now real version Tories, too much and too often, so it really is Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. I don't even think the Tories and Lib Dems will scrap that much in Eastleigh in the by-election. Politics is sort of dying as they attack the poor and bless the rich.

For example, everyone knows that this cap of £75,000 on elderly care (but not including accommodation and food - when it is the house that gets sold off!) is an upper middle class policiy. If you are poorer, your money will still disappear. The cap is for the benefit of the rich. This is utterly different from removing what is needed to survive from the poorest.

And also the economic effect of the Bedroom Tax will be massively deflationary. We need people at the bottom end spending, but this will limit many to food and much else will be impossible to pay. There will be bad debts rising. To cap something that might happen, paid for by inheritance tax that will happen, that nevertheless tells the wealthier what they will have and keep, is simply to play around with savings and property (at the margin - almost no effect, if slightly deflationary); but to introduce a Bedroom Tax is to crash the economy yet again. We'll all end up eating horses.

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