We were told after the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith that there were no further plans to cut welfare. However, the Budget was a shambles and shown to be no more than an accountancy fiddle of the stupidest order. In this sneaked out news, Stephen Crabbe still maintains that he isn't cutting welfare, but he is. We all wished for it, but the Government's announcement that it is scrapping the Bedroom Tax should fool no one (especially as George Osborne is behind this, of course), as it is being replaced by the so-called Second Person Subsidy.
At present, if you are in social housing, a spare bedroom means £15 off benefits and £25 if you have two spare bedrooms. It is mean, nasty, targets the poorest, and tells all you need to know about this government and its predecessor. So ending the Bedroom Tax it sounds great, until you realise that the Second Person Subsidy applies to everyone receiving the new Universal Credit regardless of accommodation type - and (given the drift of criticism that they were always protected) applies to pensioners too.
Anyone living alone will have an immediate deduction of £15 from the Universal Credit. But it isn't just unemployed people who will get Universal Credit. It is the working poor, it is people whether they get Housing Benefit top-ups or not. The basic State Pension will also come under Universal Credit, and thus everyone gets clobbered regardless.
Talk about 'Universal'. The government thinks that even single houses have one double bedroom as a minimum, so the idea is that if we all move in with each other we suddenly free up the housing stock - not just rented housing but private housing too, helping towards a downward pressure on houses mainly from the cheaper sector. But if we don't, then the government cashes in from everyone affected starting September.
What we have to do to avoid this benefits penalty is couple up. September 1st then is the target. So straight away I am going to increase my efforts to find a woman, particularly a woman who herself is facing a loss of £15 a week - £30 a week recovered between two people! I shall have to put lots of effort into this, to get a new woman into my bed. Presumably the government also thinks this will increase the national birthrate, although surely not when it comes to pensioners shacking up with each other. But then everything works at the margins and by percentages. And the trade figures are the worst they have ever been.