Opinion: The ‘Bedroom Tax’ does not pass the Fairer Society test

The leadership’s positioning over secret courts has angered many of the party faithful over the past week, but for me the major disappointment  has been our uncritical support of the Tory inspired ‘spare bedroom subsidy’ policy or how I think more accurately describes it – the ‘bedroom tax’.  Our leader Nick Clegg used the provocative ‘spare bedroom subsidy’ term in a Q&A session at last week’s Spring Conference, and it has been repeated by senior Lib Dems including Mike German on Newsnight in the days following.

The policy, which is part of the government’s welfare reform package, will cut the amount of  housing benefit that social housing tenants receive if they are considered to have a spare bedroom.  Proponents of this policy argue that it will incentivise people to downsize and free up much needed housing for those on the waiting list.

However even the government acknowledges that there are not enough one and two bedroom properties for those with currently larger houses to move into.   Despite this, from April the cut in housing benefit will amount to 14% for those deemed to be over-occupying by one extra bedroom, and a 25% reduction for those with two or more extra bedrooms.  The government’s own impact assessment shows that those affected will be on average £14 per week worse off.

The policy will reportedly save government £500 million per year; not a large amount given the likely cost of administering and enforcing this change.  And there is also likely to be a significant cost to the taxpayer due to the increase in homelessness this policy will inevitably cause.  The Tories, and disappointingly our party, are justifying this policy by arguing that social housing tenants will now be treated the same as tenants receiving housing benefit in the private rented sector.

I accept the social security budget has to be reduced as we look to bring down the deficit and stimulate growth.  We must incentivise work and on that basis I welcome the principles underpinning the Universal Credit.  But as Lib Dems we should not look to support policies that will penalise the poorest in our society when they have no available properties to move into, and which look to pitch different groups against each other – in this case social housing tenants from private sector tenants.

I welcomed the radical new housing policy that the party backed at last year’s conference, recognising how many new affordable homes need to be built.  As such it is important that in government we must look to support those in real housing need and not disingenuously pretend that the ‘bedroom tax’ will help significantly increase housing supply.  If we are about building a fairer society, we must challenge policies that fail that test.

* John Coburn is an activist with Westminster and City of London Liberal Democrats

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  • Why will it lead to an increase in homelessness? We have a record number of people looking for places to stay. The idea is that those under-occupying will simply rent out their spare rooms.

    You say it’ll only save £500m but government spending is made up of hundreds of similar pay-outs that only cost about £500m. If you look after the millions, the billions will look after themselves.

  • “provocative ‘spare bedroom subsidy’ term”

    I’m sorry, but you may call it ‘provocative’, but it is much closer to what it actually is than the so called ‘bedroom tax’ that you use in the title – It is clearly not a tax at all! Alth

  • Why don’t social landlords drop their rent to match the benefit reduction?

  • Thomas, why should anyone be forced to have a stranger to stay in their house to meet their basic housing need? It is truly outrageous that a bunch of millionaires with multiple over large homes dictate to the poorest in society that they must either take in a lodger to help them to scrape by or lose on average £14 per week.

    Government of all flavours have a duty to care for those least able to manage. This policy is plain stupid. Indeed if all those in social housing with spare rooms moved to smaller private rented housing (if available which it is not just like social housing) then the cost of LHA would increase to a level higher than is currently being paid to those people on HB.

    And then today it is announced that up to £1200 will be paid for childcare for those earning up to £150, 000, at a total cost far in excess of the pitiful saving of £500million through the bedroom tax.

    Yet another movement of cash from the poorest to the richer elements of society.

  • Tony Greaves 19th Mar '13 - 5:10pm

    Because (if housing associations) they have to balance their books. If they make a loss they will go bust. If local authorities, the HRA has to balance (not possible to subsidise it out of the general fund like they used to do, even if spare money available whcih no Councils have).

    The “bedroom tax” – what all the Housing Associations I know are calling it anyway – is a typical policy devised and imposed by people who would never live in social housing, who would not apply any such restrictions on themselves, who have little understanding of what it is like to live on a low income (that is to say be poor), and have little knowledge or understanding of how social housing actually works, or the circumstances in such local communities.

    It is a thorough disgrace and just one of the whole series of government attacks on poor people and people who are not as fortunate as themselves and as their civil service advisers. There were valiant attempts to stop it or moderate it in the Lords but ultimately futile.

    Excellent article, John. This change will indeed cause homelessness because some tenants will be unable to pay their rent and be evicted. How many this will happen to is not known but it will happen. Further increases in costs will occur (outside London ijn areas where housing benefit is not capped lower than the cost of the rent) when people have to move out of their 3 bed houses into 2-bed accommodation, only available in the private sector where rents are higher. They will claim more housing benefit than they are getting now, for poorer accommodation.

    Also the claimed saving only happens if people do NOT move. If (say) a family that “needs” two bedrooms moves out and a family that “needs” three moves in, and claims HB, there is no saving in the benefit paid in relation to that house.

    All the figures around this claimed saving are dodgy.

    Tony Greaves

  • Tony Greaves 19th Mar '13 - 5:14pm

    The extra for childcare will only, it seems, be paid to parents in work. So the government will provide more money for people who are earning, many of them fairly well off or very well off, and nothing to the people who are on benefits and out of work, by definition many of the poorest families.

    Interesting priorities, but not mine, When will the Liberal Democrats start to stand up for the poorest people in this country?

    Tony Greaves

    Tony Greaves

  • nice article.
    Personally, I suspect a lot of the benefits measures will prove to be misguided and will dampen an already weak economy further.

  • Peter Hayes 19th Mar '13 - 7:33pm

    Interesting the advert here was for student accommodation in a 1 bed flat in Leicester. Prices from £98 to £350 per WEEK. Would someone explain how they afford it without bank of Mum and Dad or horrendous debt? This is the BTL landlords the low paid are being screwed by. Why does LDV accept these ads?

  • Alan Marshall 19th Mar '13 - 7:43pm

    The Bedroom Tax is an appalling policy that is already causing distress to vulnerable people. It’s designed by people who seem to have no idea what life is like for so many people. It is unfair and seeks to punish people who may have fallen on hard times. Worse than that it aims to force social housing into temporary crisis accommodation and acts on people who got housing with the understanding that they would have somewhere stable to live in. They may have improved the properties, made friends and communities or rely on the help of people living nearby. That our MPs and Nick Clegg are supporting it is shocking.

  • “However even the government acknowledges that there are not enough one and two bedroom properties for those with currently larger houses to move into. ”

    Not sure that is true, I think it is acknowedged that there is not enough in the social housing sector however there are families in over crouded 1 or 2 bed places (in the private rented sector)who would have their properties freeded up if they were able to move to larger social housing that would be available.

    We need to be more flexible about moving in this country and there is too much friction at all points of the housing system that prevents people moving to accomodate their changing needs.

    I agree there could be more flexibility in the implementation as moving is a stressfull experience and takes logistical planning. However just objecting to the idea that those in properties that are subsidised and under occupied should move to subsidised accomodation that will not be under occupied is not helpful to anyone.

  • “This policy is plain stupid. Indeed if all those in social housing with spare rooms moved to smaller private rented housing (if available which it is not just like social housing) then the cost of LHA would increase to a level higher than is currently being paid to those people on HB.”

    Not if by moving people to smaller private rented housing you free up property to remove the need for those in the private rented sector to move to cheeper larger properties. If there are more people moving out of over crounded property then the affect will be flat in cost terms if it moves people from larger expensive rented properties to the same sized social housing it will save money.

    However as pointed out above lots of cases will be exempt (retired, disabled etc) so there will be nowhere near the level of cost effect claimed by either side, but that does not make it in appropriate to encourage movement in housing to best meet tennents needs and make larger social housing available for those in need if it.

  • This is not the same thing at all as secret courts, and it’s not a tax, it’s removal of a subsidy given by the state or something that isn’t needed. Opponents seem to blur people’s desire to live in houses that have capacity over their needs with the social aim of actually housing the homeless.

    I do agree that the real target of action though should be the greedy, self-satisfied BTL landlords who snaffle up low priced property to let to people who will pay their rent through state benefits while the landlords hope to scoop the equity the properties will gain. No wonder rents are high and starter homes don’t exist. Perhaps removing spare homes subsidies is also a good idea?

  • Well done the Scottish LibDem Conference.

  • Psi – this is from the Government’s own impact assessment:
    “According to estimates from DCLG there is a surplus of three bedroom properties, based on the profile of existing working age tenants in receipt of Housing Benefit, and a lack of one bedroom accommodation in the social sector. In many areas this mismatch could mean that there are insufficient properties to enable tenants to move to accommodation of an appropriate size even if tenants wished to move and landlords were able to facilitate this movement.”

  • jamessandbach 19th Mar '13 - 10:55pm

    Well said. If there were to be an uplift proposed for council tax on under-occupation of spare rooms, private owners would go spare and would certainly have enough middle class political clout to stop it. I don’t see the difference in principle

  • This policy has created a tsunami of unintended consequences and treats people like cattle to be ‘economically cleansed’ To force people to shift from homes and communities is devastating. I am affected by this after living in a two bedroom house after a period of homelessness and breakdown. I cannot cope with a move and already have my heating off fro three days a week to save money.

  • Not many people here sympathetic to the many on waiting lists for social housing or the many private renters whose rent is jacked up by housing benefit distorting the market.

  • Tony Greaves 20th Mar '13 - 12:06am

    The people here who talk about “moving people” and “friction in the market” – again, the suggestion is that the higher orders can treat the lower orders as lesser beings who can be moved around at will – are applying economic market theory to people’s real lives. Yet several people here have explained why many of these rooms are not really “surplus”.

    There is also the question of the stability and cohesion of council estates and other social housing. If you end up with estates full of no-one but crisis cases and lots of unemployed young parents with kids, and no-one else, you end up with huge social and estate management problems which again will cost the state large amounts as you lose the social controls and checks and balances of mixed communities. But these are real life situations that neither clever economic computer models nor right-wing Tory Ministers understand.

    Tony Greaves

  • Andrew Suffield 20th Mar '13 - 12:14am

    You don’t get to bang on about this without also tackling its counterpart. “Ignore the problem and do nothing” is not an acceptable alternative.

    Two households. One 30-year-old male, living alone, in a 3 bedroom flat (wife left him, taking the kids with her). Next door, one 20-something couple with two kids, living in a 1 bedroom flat. Both are council tenants. There’s no new construction happening in the next two years because the previous government spent all the money on building a giant statue of its glorious leader, and no spare accommodation anywhere else.

    Why is that a fair allocation of housing? If you think it’s not, what do you propose should be done about it, instead of the government’s proposal?

  • Why is it seemingly fair for those who can afford it to be able to give their children a bedroom each whilst they demand that children of those in social housing share theirs.

    Why is it considered fair to force those who have had a home for decades to move out of that home and into private rented accommodation? They will have to move into private renting because there is not the housing for them. I know, I am on the committee of a HA in my area.

    Why is it fair to attack the poorer in society instead of going after the greedy landlords who were charging unfair rents. Why is it fair to force HAs into raising their rents instead of forcing landlords to cut theirs.

    Is this policy a liberal one?

  • @ Andrew

    I am pretty sure your latter example is inaccurate. A couple with two children would not be able to live in a one bedroom flat except in very exceptional circumstances.

    I will however check and return to this forum with the answer.

  • Andrew, presumably under-occupiers are being encouraged to move into private rented accommodation. Why then don’t the overcrowded family do the same thing? If there is to be no real difference any more between the two tenures ( if the government get their way) then surely that should be the advice to those needing more rooms. Oh, but hang on there are benefits to living in social housing!! That’s why so many people prefer it! So you expect one group to give up their social housing but another group not to move into anything BUT social housing. Can’t have it both ways. I know you’ve been given a tick-sheet of about three points that you all keep trotting out but it’s not looking good really. This is not just a benefit cut it is an unlawful attack on the rights and safeguards that we all should, as citizens of a modern democracy, be able to enjoy. No-one has brought in a law which states that disability benefits are meant to be used for rent. In fact the Burnip judgment (the one IDS backtracked over) made it abundantly clear that such benefits should not be deemed available for that purpose nor are discretionary housing payments adequate justification or mitigation and governments should NOT rely on them to prop up policies of this sort. This is now case law. Instead of colluding with the latest government attempt to cover up the real impact of this policy why don’t you do something you can be proud of and stand up for what is right. The people and the law are against this policy: we won’t forget those who defended it.

  • David Wilkinson 20th Mar '13 - 6:32am

    A good post from John Coburn and extra comments from Lord Tony Greaves.
    The sad part of this ‘bedroom tax’ is the Clegg and company failed to ask anyone whose has been involved in local government what the real impacts will be on people.
    The pros are it will save £500m? and cons are so long there not enough room to list them. One of the negatives will be the impact on the business plans of HA’s and LA’s and their ability to deliver.
    Yes, Labour introduced the bedroom tax to the private rented sector in 2007 as a backdoor attempt to force rents down, which did not work.
    The private rented sector is not a shining example of how to provide a product for the public.
    The reason why Tories introduced the bedroom tax is simple they don’t like people in social housing, they don’t meet their requirements.
    Why Clegg went along with it god only knows or he has the same attitude as the Tories

  • @ Hywel

    Yes lets look at that key sentence again: “lack of one bedroom accommodation in the social sector”

    How is that in contradiction with my statement above?

  • Why is it the people who comment about how the Bedroom Tax is a good idea, they can just take in a lodger etc, wont be affected by it. Would you like a stranger sharing your home, ( NO I THOUGHT NOT),You can always tell by the way they twist the knife even further.
    This policy is ill thought out, unfair, cruel and unworkable to those of us who will suffer the most from the misguided millionaires in Westminster.
    Unless you stand to be affected by it yourselves keep your ” im all right jack” attitude and try putting yourself in the shoes of the people who have no alternative but to pay up or else due to no smaller properties available.
    And by the way yes i do work but have to claim Housing Benefit due to the minimum wage.

  • @ Tony Greaves

    “The people here who talk about “moving people” and “friction in the market”

    Perhaps you are talking about me? I refer to “friction in the market” but you raised “moving people”

    Then: “the suggestion is that the higher orders can treat the lower orders as lesser beings who can be moved around at will ”

    No. Strawmen arguments don’t make you look clever stick to what is being discussed.

    I said: “there is too much friction at all points of the housing system”

    ALL POINTS, so not what you describe as “lower orders.” There are barriers that reduce relativly wealthy people moving to more appropriate accomodation, it is often cheeper to extend than move which in certain areas results in houses being extended then turned in to flats and causing a shortage of the origional type of housing (pre extention). The factors that cause wealthy “empty nesters” not to think of moving, these are complex factors including tax, social norms amoung other things.

    So while you rather patronisingly look down on the “lower orders” (your words) and pitty them, I think we need to have all of society change it’s attitude to housing. But I don’t view everything through the prism of “class war.”

  • @ Tony Greaves

    See we can all play strawman games. Do you think portraying you as an elitest snob helps the discussion? If not I suggest you don’t do it to others.

  • Richard Dean 20th Mar '13 - 7:36am

    Tony Greaves is correct. Forcibly moving people about is simply not a liberal or civilized option. More like something out of a totalitarian state. A place is a home, not just a house.

    If the local authority chooses to offer a dwelling that is too big, isn’t that their fault for not building appropriately, and so shouldn’t it be the local authority who pays the bedroom tax?

  • Andrew Tennant 20th Mar '13 - 7:58am

    Current situation – 1 x under occupying family in a social home, and 1 x larger family in private rented accommodation, both supported by taxpayers using housing benefit.

    Proposed situation – 1 x larger family fully occupying a social home, and 1 x smaller family in smaller private rented accommodation, both supported by taxpayers using a lower amount of housing benefit.

    Outcome – More people satisfactorily housed at a lower cost to the taxpayer.

    So why are people complaining about this again?

  • Richard Dean 20th Mar '13 - 8:02am

    Because it’s not just about money

  • psi You rather patronisingly and provocatively refer to “class war”. Surely the overarching main problem with today’s economy and society is the inexorable rise of inequality. You may refer to “class war”, but what is needed IS radical redistribution from the better off in society to those lower down. This applies in the housing sector as much (if not more) than anywhere else.

    So, as a party who believes in everyone having the resources to enjoy a reasonable life, and make their own contribution, surely we should be supporting policies aimed at such redistribution. If we did not share that analysis with the Tories, perhaps that may be the reason we have been trapped into supporting many Thatcherite type policies.

    We should have been pressing for moves to cap private sector rents, and moves to reduce housing costs in both the rented and purchased sectors, linked to moves to encourage employment development in regions outside the overheated southeast. Of course these moves will not be popular with everyone, but the rhetoric of “rebalancing the economy” will ultimately lead to some of these policies. I am encouraged that Heseltine and Cable are pushing, successfully, it seems, for some increase in intervention. It is time we recognised as a party that intervention does not imply illiberal and should be something we welcome, not something we oppose.

  • It was the Liberals who brought in social housing!!!! No you are contributing to its dismantling–shame, shame and more shame; do we want tent cities like America? The parity being claimed between social housing and the private sector is a false one: social tenants have MORE responsibility for their homes and put more money into them therefore expecting them to just ‘shift’ with no reasonable plans for compensation for their’ investment’ is despicable and grotesque. Remember: many of us have been through illness/poor mental health and CANNOT COPE WITH THIS STRAIN! I’m a whisker’s breadth from using a food bank now, so when I loose £15 a week I will have to. Thank you Lib Dems, I will never vote for you again. Now I have no-one to vote for and no officially recognised abstention

  • Andrew tenant: even if we’re in a place where your simplistic scenario applies (which is very few actual places):

    If the two families swap houses as you say, how will the housing benefit paid be reduced? Surely if the exact same houses are involved it will be exactly the same?

    And that’s ignoring the fact that the private landlord will have likely put the rent up and the social landlords will have had to put the rent up because of the “Market Rent” provisions so it is far more likely to cost more. The only way this policy will actually save money for the government is if people stay where they are and find the money from their food and/or heating budgets: The government’s own impact assessment shows this.

    There is a real problem with housing in this country, and the only solution is to build lots more houses. No government will do that, though, because of the fall in house prices and revolt among the moneyed classes that will cause. It’s much easier to victimise the poor; they’re less likely to vote anyway – which is why labour got away with doing this to private renters.

  • Helen Dudden 20th Mar '13 - 9:12am

    I feel the Liberal Democrats no longer stand for human rights, I thought that this was the principle of the wording on the membership card.

    As I stated before I rang Nick Cleggs office on the subject of an All Party Working Group with just one member of the Lib Dems. 10 Labour, 9 Conservative and 1 Lib Dem.

    I have tried to get an answer on this group, it is on the rights of the child, child abduction.

    Well Mr. Clegg, I never had my reply, I don’t expect to get one.

  • ANDREW TENANT is an exemplar of someone unaffected by this policy and living in a cloud-cuckoo-land world where humans are chess pieces in a virtual reality. Read the reports coming in from all over the country that report the strain and suffering caused and the likely loss rather than saving this will cause. My M.P. (Tory) supports this policy and is so concerned about public spending that he claimed £87 a month from the taxpayer for his laundry, £100 for food a week and a flipped mortgage! It wasn’t illegal but indicative of where much of our money goes-into the pockets of those who don’t need it! Culture of entitlement or what!

  • Steve Griffiths 20th Mar '13 - 9:38am

    Tony Greaves and Richard Dean are quite correct.

    The “let them move” argument is the latter day equivalent to “let them eat cake”. I was raised on a council estate in social housing; both sets of grandparents were on the same estate and as they aged and family members left home, so bedrooms became empty. But these houses were their homes where they had lived for decades. I would like to know from those contributing to this thread that advocate the “let them move” policy, treating people as mere items on a balance sheet, whether they themselves have ever lived in social housing? We might therefore know from whence they speak. I have, and have also been a Lib Dem district council housing spokesperson and committee chair. Most people don’t choose to be in social housing; they have just not had the life chances of those making these pronouncements and legislation from on high.

    I sometimes wonder who advises our Lib Dem MPs on housing and what experiences of social housing they’ve had. perhaps someone reading this thread might like to tell us.

  • There is a shortage of public sector housing. The solution which so-called liberals are going along with is to punish under occupiers by taking away an element of housing benefit. I would be interested to know if such a family is always offered alternative appropriate sized accommodation before the punishment is applied. My wife and I massively under occupy our house but we own it. We own it because we are lucky enough to belong to the full employment cheap housing (income tax relief on mortgage interesrt for a while) free higher education generation. How about the dignity of the family being ‘fined’ for failure to move house. The Tories are happy to reduce pblic sector benefit s in line with those renting in the private sector, levelling down is OK with them as well as some contributors. Not with me and thank goodness for Tony Greaves!

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Mar '13 - 10:01am

    Yellow Bill

    @ Andrew

    I am pretty sure your latter example is inaccurate. A couple with two children would not be able to live in a one bedroom flat except in very exceptional circumstances.

    The exceptional circumstances being that they have nowhere else to live.

    I assure you, what Andrew Suffield wrote was quite accurate. There are people living in desperately overcrowded situations who are told they will never be given a council house allocation because as they have a roof over their heads they do not get classified as “homeless”, and the number of people who do qualify as legally homeless is enough to take up any council housing that does get available to be re-let, and by law they must always be given priority.

    When I was London Borough councillor I dealt with cases like this all the time – people living in extreme overcrowding coming to me in tears, begging and pleading with me to do something to help them get council housing. Often they were told to come to me by council housing officials who KNEW there was no chance at all of them ever getting an allocation, so sending them to speak to their local councillor was a way to get rid of them. At the same time, much of the council housing in my ward was occupied by people whose family circumstances had changed and they no longer needed all the rooms they had. The most difficult casework I had to deal with was when people in this situation wanted me to help them pass their tenancies on to their single children, as the law allows with limitations. Obviously, it was my duty to advise and assist, so I did – but how then could look in the eyes of the next family with kids that came to me, begging, pleading and crying because of their overcrowding and being told, no, there never will be a council house for you?

    It is for this reason that I have some sympathy with the “bedroom tax” idea.

    John Coburn says there are not enough one and two bedroom properties for council tenants in three bedroom properties to move to. Maybe in other parts of the country, where I was and everywhere I know in London, the big shortage is of three bedroom council properties. Most of them have gone under right-to-buy because it would be madness for anyone not to take advantage of the massive subsidies this gives and the huge dollops of cash it hands out. If mum’s an elderly widow living alone in the three-bedroom council house you were brought up in, why on earth leave it to be handed back to the council? Buy it for her under right-to-buy, wait for the inevitable, sell it, pocket the £75,000 subsidy. There are lenders who will give you the money to do this, and split the profit, so you don’t need to be able to afford it entirely by yourself. And who buys up the property? Buy-to-let merchants, who will rent it out privately at three times what was its council rent. They will rent it out to the very people who would have got a council house allocation had it gone back to the council. That extra rent money is paid by YOU AND ME in taxes through the housing benefit system.

    And, if the papers are right, George Osborne today will be increasing that dollop of cash handed out to £100,000, encouraging any remaining council housing to be taken out if the system. At the cost, as I said, to you and me in taxes, to you and me in government spending cuts, all to line the pockets of those who profit from this, but the greater cost is the human misery and consequent social problems caused by extreme overcrowding due to the running down of the council housing system.

  • Simon Cohen 20th Mar '13 - 2:51pm

    I thnk we can legitimately use the term ‘economic cleansing’ in this context. The Government’s invasion of family life and the well-being of communities is quite shocking with Duncan Smith presenting the policy in a simplistic unrepresentative way so that it looks like they are helping overcrowded homes. The Government has been priming the populace to perceive a benefit claimant as a scapegoat fro our woes by feeding ‘memes’ such as ‘scroungers versus strivers’, ‘aspiration’, ‘closed blinds’, ‘doing the right thing’ and so forth. This is a corruption of language redolent of some of the most dubious regimes in recent history – and it is lulling the british people into a state of soporific non-awareness. Where will the wake-up call come from? many thanks to those of you who are alive to this.

  • Andrew Tennant 20th Mar '13 - 6:34pm

    It wouldn’t be the same privately rented home, but a smaller one.

    Seriously, this policy has one of two outcomes or a combination of both:
    1) More effective use of social homes to house more people affordably and effectively
    2) Lower housing benefit costs to the taxpayer as a result of fewer larger private rentals needing to be funded.

  • My dear Andrew – those of 61 and over are not affected and it is this very group that is most likely to have the spare rooms. What do you say to me who has a son with him 4 days a week and most of the holidays and has his (my son’s) room declared spare? Should my son sleep on the sofa? I was homeless and in a hostel only two years ago, I have fragile health and M.E and hardly any savings -a move now would finish me off – there is human element behind the mental chess game!
    I was a secondary school teacher for 15 years before ill health chimed in-surely, surely I’m not too much of a burden -or am I?

  • Andrew Suffield 20th Mar '13 - 10:54pm


    You have written a lengthy rant about things you hate while ignoring the whole point of my post:

    What is your proposal?

    There is not enough housing and no prospect of building enough housing in the short term, therefore all solutions are going to suck. We already knew this, just as we knew that the proposal on the table from the government sucks. The government’s proposal is also the only thing that anybody has bothered to propose, so right now it’s winning the debate by default. Show me some better ideas, or an argument in favour of perpetuating the status quo. If you can do neither then you’re not contributing anything to the debate.

  • Andrew Tennant 21st Mar '13 - 7:42pm

    I’d say appeal or ask for dispensation, as it sounds like your son is with you more than half the time.

    I’d also say that it’s my view that pensioners shouldn’t be exempted.

  • Matthew Huntbach 22nd Mar '13 - 10:35am

    Simon Cohen

    The Government has been priming the populace to perceive a benefit claimant as a scapegoat fro our woes by feeding ‘memes’ such as ‘scroungers versus strivers’, ‘aspiration’, ‘closed blinds’, ‘doing the right thing’ and so forth.

    We are talking about housing benefit here, and the beneficiaries of housing benefit are the landlords, not the tenants. The Tories and the right-wing press will not tell you that. They keep on and on saying things which lead to the idea that this money which actually goes straight to the landlord instead is money given to the welfare recipients to spend on luxury.

    The running down of council housing caused this. Yet it is still being put forward – George Osborne did so just the other day – as one of the best policies ever, as a triumph for the Conservatives, as something that “helps” with the housing crisis. It doesn’t, and that ought to be obvious. Changing the status of a tenant to the owner of a house does not put a roof over the head of anyone who didn’t have one. It does not provide a bedroom to any child who is forced to share a bedroom with two or three of his or her siblings. It does, however, mean that in the long-term where that house would have become available to re-let and do this, it doesn’t.

    It is a very long-term thing, which is why there has been a gradual build up in the inevitable crisis it was leading to, taking a period of some 25 years. It was a give-away bribe which worked to turn sufficient people into Tory voters to keep the Tories in power, and which worked to make the proportion of the population who are owner occupiers high enough to mean they can always be dragged in to defend the idle rich – who are what the Tories are REALLY about – against equitable taxation, by the simple line of suggesting that any tax on huge holdings of land and wealth is an attack on all who own property.

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  • Roland
    Perhaps the long term solution is to establish a bona fida NHS general dentistry system. We do need to ask why NHS GP practises seem to thrive (and do relativel...
  • Jenny Barnes
    "Ed Davey went paddle boarding on Windermere this morning" A brave move, Party Leader https://x.com/CountBinface/status/1795412325870018643?ref_src=twsrc%5Ego...
  • Roland
    @Alex Macfie “ this should not distract us from the reality that after the 2015GE we had a Tory-only … government. … it means that what happened since th...
  • David Brunnen
    Thanks Steve ‘marvellous match’ Trevethan - making a monetary bonfire will require a good many sparks and the patience to keep the fire going! Right now th...
  • David Allen
    Davey - Making Sunak look dry!...