On Monday, the bedroom tax takes effect.
Not heard of it?
You’re not alone. I suspect the majority of the country hasn’t heard of it. If you’re not up to date, perhaps you’ve come across it as something else, maybe the spare room subsidy. The idea is that people in social housing who receive housing benefit and have spare bedrooms are having their benefit cut so that we aren’t subsidising their spare rooms. This will encourage people in larger houses to downsize to relieve overcrowding and homelessness – there are far more people on waiting lists than there are houses available. (Something to do with councils selling off their properties under Right to Buy schemes, but let’s not go there.)
There are a few problems with this idea. First of all, pensioners, who are probably most likely to be underoccupying, are exempt. Which points instantly to the idea that this isn’t about saving money or freeing up housing, because if it was, it would be across the board. I can’t imagine that pensioners in social housing on benefits are confirmed conservative voters, but maybe the predicted headlines wouldn’t play well with pensioners who are voters?
And then there’s this definition of spare. Foster children don’t count, so their bedrooms are automatically spare. People with disabilities in houses that have been adapted for them, who may need the extra room for medical equipment or because they can’t share a bedroom, aren’t exempt. It’s hardly money saving to force them to move to a smaller house that then has to be adapted all over again is it?
This isn’t about saving money.
It isn’t about freeing up housing stock. There’s no guarantee that the underoccupied houses are in the same area as overcrowded houses or that the two sets can be matched up. The bedroom tax is just another ploy from a government scratching round to find ways to distract us from the real problems. There’s a beautifully reasoned report on it all on the national housing federation blog if you want to read.
Bedroom tax isn’t the only way that the government is trying to claw back the deficit. There are a whole swathe of changes to benefits hitting in very soon. You can check out what’s going on in this bbc article and see if any of the changes affect you.
Again, I don’t believe this is actually about saving money. I think it’s about dividing and conquering. It’s about government rhetoric, they really do believe they can get the rest of the country pointing fingers anywhere except at the people causing the problem.
The people causing the problems are at the top of corporations who don’t pay fair wages. Who expect their workers to be subsidised by tax credits. Who then export money from this country in tax avoiding ploys. And our government facilitates all of this.
Our government and the opposition are made up of people who have never subsisted under the systems they are abusing. Who stand to profit from breaking up the NHS. Who think nothing of paying themselves expenses while cutting every last safety net that exists to protect the poor, the disabled, the vulnerable.
It’s utterly disgusting. And it’s not in my name.
I believe there are solutions. I believe that fair wages are a really good starting point. I think abolishing workfare would be another good step. If there are jobs that are worth doing, companies should be paying people to do them, not employing sanctioned workers on benefits. I think housing benefit going to private landlords at grossly inflated rates when councils aren’t building social housing is utterly wrong. We need social housing, and if we had a building program, we’d be paying workers, and for materials, and revitalising the construction industry which would in turn pump money into the economy as those workers spent it. What goes around, comes around. The worst people to give money to are millionaires I’m guessing.
Is there anyone out there that knows enough about the figures to suggest how what my ideas could be made to hang together and work?