PMQs: Bob Russell teaches Ed Miliband how to do it

These days, Ed Miliband is getting a lot of advice on how to deal with Prime Minister’s Questions. A leaked memo advised him to “get to your feet looking as though you are seizing on something new”, and to ensure that he has a “cheer line” so his speech can be “clipped by the broadcasters”.

David Cameron, of course, reminded Ed Miliband of this advice today. But the best advice came in the form of an example of excellent questioning by Bob Russell, Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester.

In the last question today, Bob referred to the “fun and games” that the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition had earlier on the subject of the housing benefit cuts. He said that, as children may end up homeless, this is no laughing matter, and did the PM agree about the seriousness of the cuts? He said that he thought that there would be unintended consequences from the proposed measures and that the cost of putting up families in B&B is greater than the cost of housing benefit.

A powerful point, as usual from our friend from Colchester. The Prime Minister replied that he agreed about the great seriousness of the matter. But he repeated what he said earlier — that the £20,000 per annum cap for rent for families is correct. Mr Cameron said this is about fairness, and that people in Colchester, Doncaster and West Oxfordshire couldn’t imagine living in a place which costs more than £20,000 a year to rent.

I note that David Cameron did not include London in his list. Perhaps this indicates that there is a bit of a rethink going on behind the scenes about the cap for London, and perhaps other cities. It is not fair or sensible to move families out of London where they are established in the community, with children attending local schools, and force them into bed-and-breakfast accommodation in places like Reading and Luton. It costs more financially, I would guess, and certainly the human cost is anything but fair. It is social engineering at its most insane.

Somehow, Bob Russell managed to convey the gravity of the government’s proposals in one question, whereas Ed Miliband’s six questions on the same topic tended towards music hall knockabout.

Mr Miliband started by asking whether all aspects of the housing benefit changes are “fixed”, noting Iain Duncan-Smith’s statement that the Coalition Government is “open to suggestions”. After the Prime Minister twice said that the Government is “going ahead with the proposals”, Mr Miliband asked Mr Cameron if he thought the 10% cut, after a year of job seeking, is fair. Mr Cameron went on about “difficult choices”, and that the current measures can amount to a “significant disincentive” to work.

The Labour leader commented that, with that reply, the Prime Minister had “dug himself in” on the 10% cut after a year. He then asked what advice Mr Cameron had for those families impacted by this cut, about how to make ends meet. The Priem Minister replied that there would be more programmes to help people back into work. He mentioned that, in London, the cut impacted 13,000 people a year — but that there are more than 30,000 job vacancies a month in London.

Mr Miliband then said that the Coalition is about to make 500,000 people redundant. This didn’t get challenged, but it ought to be. A four-year programme of 450,000 positions being ended, a headcount reduction, is not the same as making 500,000 people redundant. The latter description does not take into account vacant positions not filled, and tends to underplay voluntary redundancies. Anyway, Mr Miliband mentioned research saying that 82,000 people will lose their homes because of the Government’s changes. He then asked Mr Cameron how many people he thinks will lose their homes? A good point.

The Prime Minister just repeated his statement about £20,000 a year rent, adding that there is “no reason anyone should leave their home”. Really? That one will come back to haunt him.

Then came the last statements and the musical hall. Mr Miliband referred to “Glum” (Simon Hughes) and “Glummer” (Nick Clegg). He repeated Simon Hughes’s statement that some aspects of the housing benefit changes are “harsh and draconian” and said, to great Labour merriment, that “it is no surprise that Nick Clegg is back on the fags” (which I don’t think he is – unless he’s become marooned on a desert island since the weekend).

Mr Cameron then ended the routine (for that is what it was) by reading out quotes from the leaked memo, mentioned above. He said that Mr Miliband had a plan for PMQs (which I am not sure he has yet, mind you) but “no plan for the country”.

One little fact that emerged from later questioning. The Conservative MP for Tamworth, Christopher Pincher, asked his party leader to congratulate the chief executive of Ocado. Mr Cameron said he would, adding: “I am one of their customers”. Intriguing. Ocado is the online wing of Waitrose. So the Prime Minister still shops at Waitrose. But the Deputy Prime Minister famously said a couple pf years ago that, owing to the credit crunch, he and Miriam had given up Ocado’s, and were going to Sainsburys instead. So unless Chez Clegg have recently returned to their old habits, it’s Waitrose for the PM and Sainsbury’s for the DPM. A fascinating, if not in the least significant, piece of retail trivia coming out of today’s PMQs.

Other snippets…

Is David Blunkett bonkers? He wants a Yorkshire parliament. Indeed, a “White Rose Parliament” as he called it. He didn’t seem to mention this when he was in power for the best part of 13 years.

Tessa Munt, Liberal Democrat MP for Wells, highlighted the fact that 420 people a year in Somerset die owing to the cold or poor housing. She asked Mr Cameron to support the work of a charity which encourages those who do not need their cold weather payments to give their payment to those who are less fortunate.

The Scottish Natonal Party’s Angus Robertson asked about the threat to RAF Lossiemouth which would result in the “biggest loss of Scottish jobs since the manufacturing closures in the 1980s”. The Prime Minister replied , rather flippantly, that if Scotland became independent they wouldn’t be flying planes in Scotland -– “they’d be flying by the seat of their pants”. Very funny. In fairness, he did also mention that two aircraft carriers will be built in Scotland.

The Prime Minister unequivocally ruled out any airport plans for the Thames Estuary, Medway and Kent. You could virtually hear Boris sobbing quietly in his glass testicle.

Labour MP Sharon Hodgson said that the recent announcements on the Child Trust Fund and the Help in Pregnancy scheme amounted to an attack on women and children. She said that Labour would make choices, “but different choices”, mentioning their plan to tax bankers more. Mr Cameron replied that Labour has made absolutely no choices, and that they had 13 years to introduce a bank levy, but didn’t, while the Coalition Government introduced one within six months. An interesting one, that. Imagine if Labour had introduced a bank levy in 1997. I doubt whether we would have heard the last of the Tories’ condemnation.

The government made much of the latest, unexpectedly high, economic growth figures and the fact that Standard and Poor have recently upgraded the UK to “stable”.

Yes, it’s great that the economy is recovering … just in time for the CSR to mess it all up again.

* Paul Walter blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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69 Comments

  • The entirely obvious and only way to introduce cuts in housing benefit cuts in a way that doesn’t cause homelessness is to reintroduce rent controls at the same time as benefit cuts. If large parts of the United States manage to survive with rent controls in place without capitalism crumbling then I don’t see why we can’t.

    I don’t think I’ve ever read what our stance is on Rent control in any policy document, so would be interested to hear peoples opinions.

  • The 10% cut to the Housing Benefit of people unemployed for a year is a spiteful, counter-productive policy. I hope Lib Dem MP’s stop it.

  • “it’s taking from parasitic asset rich landlords. Housing benefit subsidises business who pay non-viable salaries and is, in my view, government intervention causing market failure”

    Whilst at the same time causing many thousands of the poor and vulnerable homeless, and what about the 10% ‘punishment’ cut to HB after one year? there is no excuse for that, no whatsoever, that’s just evil.
    Surely it’s not beyond the wit of man to address those things you mentioned without seriously damaging the well-being of the very people the government is suppose to protect, or do you think that’s not the governments job?

    nige (exLD)

  • I don’t support a Yorkshire Parliament but I am not sure why someone should be termed bonkers for suggesting it. (there are many much more bonkers things Blunkett believes in such as ID cards). Yorkshire has a larger population than Scotland which has its own Parliament and Government

  • Liberal Neil 27th Oct '10 - 8:38pm

    I agree with Andrew Tennant on this one. There is nothing harsh about limiting Housing Benefit to £21K a year. The vast majority of households in this country, who pay their taxes to help fund Housing Benefit for others, couldn’t afford housing costs that high and have to live where they can afford to live. All housing is not that expensive across the whole of London, and anyway London has the best public transport in the country and it is easy to get about compared to most places.

  • Richard Morris 27th Oct '10 - 9:11pm

    Just to go back to the original point of this post – Bob Russell did show everyone in The House how to do it. And perhaps got Cameron – with his omission of London in his answer – to choose his words more carefully than Miliband did in 6 goes. Good to see (or rather hear – I was listening on 5 Live).

  • I just don’t see how we can carry on paying billions of taxpayers’ money into a bureaucratic benefit that mainly profits landlords and inflates property prices and rents. HB seems to be a way the ‘buy-to-let’ rich can raid the welfare budget. Perhaps the cap should come with rent controls and regional variant. What would you do Anne?

  • Patrick Smith 27th Oct '10 - 9:40pm

    I think I would have asked -Why is it that private landlords are currently being paid £3.5B in housing benefits and are not providing their tenants with homes that preclude the incursion of rising damp and poor heating for young families?

  • I think pretty much everyone is agreed HB is subsidising buy to rent landlords but it’s the poorest who are being punished for the greed of others, these landlords will still make a healthy profit with these proposals but the poor will end up homeless, and I can tell you from personal experience sleeping under the stars is not as romantic as it sounds and the mantras ‘we’re all in together’ and ‘fairness’ will not keep you warm.

    nige (exLD)

  • So Nige, how do we sort it out ? How do we stop the buy-to-let landlords taking a large chunk of the welfare pie, without hitting the poor. Rent control?

  • I also agree with Stephen W, Liberal Neil and Andrew Tennant.

    I also think that Labour generally , and their spokesman, shadow minister Mr Chris Bryant, are completely out of touch with what voters (especially in areas with “traditional Labour voters”) will think about this.

    We don’t have many such areas in my constituency, but if we did I would be inclined to get out a leaflet asking people who they agreed with: Nick Clegg or Chris Bryant, who was reported in today’s Independent as follows:

    “Last night Mr Bryant said he stood by his remarks on the Coalition’s plans to cap housing benefit at around £400 a week for a house rented in the private sector.”

    Nick was reported as saying this to the Commons on Tuesday:

    “What we are doing is saying that people who receive housing benefit, it is perfectly reasonable for the Government to say it won’t hand out more in housing benefit than people who go out to work, pay their taxes, abide by the rules.

    “We are simply suggesting there should be a cap for family homes of four bedrooms of £400 a week. That is £21,000 a year.

    “Do you really think it’s wrong for people who can’t afford to live privately in those areas, that the state should subsidise people to the tune of more than £21,000? I don’t think so.”

  • I have rechecked (twice) because I thought my eyes were deceiving me, but there is a Comment thread on this very topic on the Guardian website. It started Wednesday lunchtime.

    Nothing unusual in that – except that the overwhelming majority of the 700+ posts so far are supportive of the Coalition Government’s plan, as described by Nick Clegg in my post above.

    I never thought I would find myself in such agreement with “Guardian-readers”.

    Details here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/oct/27/government-committed-to-housing-benefit-cap

  • @Simon Shaw
    Those that are supportive don’t actually understand all the proposals. They think it is just about capping HB at £400 pound a week. Take the proposals as a whole and i guarantee you two things a) a massive rise in homelessness b) an even bigger bill for the taxpayer. We do need to deal with the spiralling costs of HB but as with much of what the Coalition is doing these policies are half-baked. I wouldn’t be too cheered by the comments on CIF. A number of them are from people who are clearly certifiable and/or utterly consumed with hatred for anyone on benefits. The spectacle of millionaire politicians who screwed the public purse for as much as they could get in second homes allowance forcing large numbers of people into homelessness is not going to play well in the long run.

  • John Fraser 28th Oct '10 - 8:04am

    it would ofcourse be madness if an average family was haviong £21K spent on their rent . These ofcourse an NOT averaged families but tend to be the ones with 7 or 8 or more kids . I am sure that none of you really want to see more than two Kids to each bedroom in the 21st centrury. However many of you are missing the point . The 21K housing benefit whilst it could be harsh on a few is the headline rate which is designed to appear reasonable . That is only paid at 90% after a year which can drastically dig into a families free income for food and clothes. Even then that is not the worst slap in the face. The 21K is a false number as any family taking the full 21K would only have 4k fot ALL OTHER THINGS as benafits are capped at 25K . This ofcourse makes it IMPOSSIBLE for a large family to live as a unit . Forget London in most part of the countries large families would be out on the street . It is just damned stupid to compare what an average working family gets and them say it is enough for a family twice or three times the size .

    THERE WILL BE FAMILY SPLIT UPS AND PEOPLE TAKEN INTO EXPENSIVE CARE i AM SHOCKED AND ASHAMED THAT SO MANY LIB DEMS SEEM TO BE IN SUPPORT OF THIS.

  • AndrewR
    ”Those that are supportive don’t actually understand all the proposals.”

    If you’re saying that people who post on the Guardian’s Comment website are basically thick, then that may well be true for all I know.

    AndrewR
    ”Take the proposals as a whole and i guarantee you two things … a massive rise in homelessness”

    I’m not clear why that should be the case.

    AndrewR
    ” We do need to deal with the spiralling costs of HB”

    I, for one, would be interested in hearing your suggestions.

  • Grammar Police 28th Oct '10 - 8:29am

    @ John Fraser, a point that was made on the BBC London news last night – the vast majority of people who claim full housing benefit live in social housing and will not be affected by the cap.

  • John Fraser
    ”it would of course be madness if an average family was haviong £21K spent on their rent . These of course an NOT averaged families but tend to be the ones with 7 or 8 or more kids. ”

    I quite agree that it can be dangerous talking about “non average” families, so let’s talk about more average situations.

    The equivalent maximum for a 3 bedroom house will be £340 per week, rather than £400 per week. That’s £17,700 pa in rent.

    Are you really suggesting, John, that an annual limit of £17,700 for rent on an “average” family house is “unfair”?

  • .
    It doesn’t seem long ago that MPs were saying £23000 a year was needed as a second home allowance for just one person – not a family.

  • @Simon Shaw
    Pegging HB to the 30th percentile of local rents will affect hundreds of thousands of people. A large percentage of those people are not going to have the money to pay a deposit, moving costs and rent on a new place. Why do you think councils are block booking B&B? They clearly expect homelessness to rise. Why do you think Tory MP’s are lobbying the government to put in place a package of measures designed to ameliorate the effects of these policies?

    If forcing people out of their homes and then paying more to put them up in B&B wasn’t mad enough there is the real possibility you will also be forcing people out of work. Do you really think forcing someone on low pay out of their home and potentially out of viable commuting distance of their job is going to make the world a better place?

    This problem has developed over decades. Quick fix solutions are not going to solve it. A high HB bill is the natural result of high housing costs. What is needed is more social housing and a system of rent controls.

  • AndrewR
    ”We do need to deal with the spiralling costs of HB”

    AndrewR
    ”Quick fix solutions are not going to solve it.”

    On the basis that we do appear to agree that the system inherited from the previous government is a disgrace, may I repeat my previous request to you: “What is your solution, then?”

  • @Paul Walter

    I am sure Andrew Tennanf can speak for himself, but I rather assume the “luxury” he was referring to was not the size of the family, but rather having a house provided, courtesy of other people’s taxes, the annual rent of which is £25,000 or £35,000pa.

  • AndrewR
    ” A high HB bill is the natural result of high housing costs.”

    I would agree. But would you agree that it also works the other way round:

    “High housing costs (incl for those who “pay their own way”) are partly the natural result of high levels of HB payments.”

  • @Paul Walter

    Ed Miliband performed brilliantly at PMQs. He made Cameron look obdurate and unsympathetic. He forced him to re-affirm that he is not going to do a U turn on Housing Benefit cuts despite all the compromising, understanding noises being heard backstage and that became the top story on the Channel Four News yesterday evening. No wonder the Orange Tories looked glum. Ed moves quietly by stealth and with humour. Quite a combination. You would be stupid to under-estimate him.

  • Simon Shaw
    My solution is contained in the last sentence of my previous post. I don’t pretend rent controls don’t bring their own issues but if legislation is properly crafted I think they have a role to play while we move to deal with the root cause of the problem which is a lack of affordable housing.
    You haven’t addressed yourself to any of the manifest problems with the government proposals. Are you happy forcing people out of work? Are you happy cutting HB by 10% after a year and forcing people into homelessness? Do you think paying more to house families in B&B is an example of a joined up policy?

  • AndrewR
    ” Pegging HB to the 30th percentile of local rents will affect hundreds of thousands of people. A large percentage of those people are not going to have the money to pay a deposit, moving costs and rent on a new place.”

    Two points:

    1. While I would concede that getting from the current system (which limits HB to the 50th percentile of local rents) to the proposed system (which limits HB to the 30th percentile of local rents) could cause some difficulties, would you agree that the proposed (30%tile) HB limit is “fairer”?

    2. I cannot see how “people are not going to have the money to pay … rent on a new place.” They are going to have their HB, aren’t they?

  • @matt
    I assume you are quoting from somewhere in the top part of your last post.

    Assuming the figures are true, they surely support what the Coalition Government is trying to do.

    Those figures are saying that there are 21,060 households living in “expensive” rented houses, whose average annual rent is £24,650 pa

    So the rent on those 21,060 properties is £520 million per annum (yes, over half a billion ££s). It seems fair to assume that most of that is being paid for by taxpayers, most of whom earn less in a year than the rent they are having to contribute towards.

    No wonder even Guardian readers thinks the system needs changing.

  • AndrewR
    Are you happy forcing people out of work?

    Are you suggesting that is one of the effects in the change in HB policy? I don’t really see how.

  • Simon Shaw

    1 Landlords lose rent. Claimant is made homeless (most of them are working btw). Taxpayer has to pick up tab to put them up in ridiculously expensive B&B. Everyone loses. A high price to pay for ‘fairness’.

    2 When I claimed HB in the early nineties it took up to 12 weeks for the claim to be assessed and paid. I imagine there is a lot of regional variation and it may be that things are better now but I would be surprised if claimants didn’t have to pay a substantial amount upfront before their claim came through.

  • @AndrewR

    I genuinely don’t want to put words into your mouth, but I do take that to mean that you agree that moving from the 50th percentile to the 30th percentile basis is “fairer”?

    On that basis (very much like the budget deficit issue) we yet again have a major problem because of the complete failure of the previous Labour Government to deal with the issue.

  • @George Kendall
    “I think Labour will have been disappointed by Ed Miliband’s performance.
    I can’t see the strategy here. His strategy, surely, must be to rid himself of the label of deficit denier. ”

    I think that Ed Miliband’s strategy at PMQs yesterday was to make Cameron look obdurate and unsympathetic. In this he succeeded. Cameron’s refusal to do a U Turn on Housing Benefit then became the top story on last night’s Channel Four News and was run in tandem with a heart rending report about a woman suffering from depression who will be forced out of her London flat because of the Housing Benefit cap which will take effect from next April. She expects to be forced to move her family into a hostel miles from where she has lived for 30 years. The ultimate effect was to make Cameron’s intransigence at PMQs look particularly hard nosed and heartless. Exactly what Ed Miliband intended.
    As for your deficit denier point, at PMQs Cameron read out a leaked Labour memo which revealed that Labour intended billions of pounds worth of cuts if Labour were returned to government. Hardly the plans of defict deniers as Cameron showed. Why does Ed Miliband need to rid himself of the Label of deficit denier when Cameron is unwittingly doing the job for him?

  • AndrewR
    ”Landlords lose rent. Claimant is made homeless.”

    You keep saying that, but you’re wrong.

    Firstly, the change from the 50%ile to 30%ile basis is likely to affect far fewer people than you are implying.

    Also, for those it does affect, shouldn’t you say “Claimant has to move” rather than “Claimant is made homeless”. For example, I last moved house 20 years ago – in your terms I was “homeless” 20 years ago – that’s ridiculous!

  • @Simon Shaw
    Well I actually was homeless twenty years ago having been forced into exactly the trap that you are so willing to spring on the 3/4 of a million people who will be affected by these changes. If you have to leave your home and you don’t have money for a deposit and the first month’s rent you will be homeless. I don’t know what it will take to make you recognise this simple fact. The problems of homelessness and lack of affordable housing did not begin 13 years ago.

  • @AndrewR
    Sorry, I thought you were referring to people who have to move to somewhere more affordable as being “homeless”.

    But is there any evidence that people would become genuinely homeless because of the problem of having to find money for “a deposit, moving costs and rent on a new place”?

    Are you not ignoring the Discretionary Housing Payments Fund?

    Also, you referred to this problem as affecting “a large percentage of those people”. What percentage are you saying will be affected? I think you will find it is a far smaller proportion than you are implying.

  • The reason why we are in a housing crisis is because of the awe and reverence which has been extended to Thatcher’s ‘Right to Buy’ legislation by successive governments. We must build millions more state owned houses and make it a criminal offence punishable by a custodial sentence for anyone who tries to appropriate them for private gain.

  • Andrew Tennanf wrote –
    “I think large families and a high birth rate more reminiscent of early industrialisation or third world countries”

    Or something very 21st century in the form of second marriages with each parent having children of their own thus making one large family.
    I know the debate has moved on but this did need to be said

  • @ Andrew Tennanf
    Posted 28th October 2010 at 8:16 am | Permalink
    John, in the 21st Century I don’t want to see 7 or 8 children families. People create their problems, they should take some responsibility for them. No-one should be under any illusion that the state will support them whatever life luxuries they decide they deserve if they don’t have the wherewithall to pay for them!
    ….
    Andrew you have just called xchildren ‘problems’ that is a ghastly thing to say even if accidental . parents make mistakes agreed and you are saying that the children should be punished by being made homeless or taken into care . Do you really want the workhouse to return ?

  • @Grammar police
    Grammar Police
    Posted 28th October 2010 at 8:29 am | Permalink
    @ John Fraser, a point that was made on the BBC London news last night – the vast majority of people who claim full housing benefit live in social housing and will not be affected by the cap.#
    ………………………
    I can only repeat again that this 21K ceiling is not the main kick in the teeth . It is the 25K in total benafits that will rip large families apart .

  • @Simon Shaw.
    Simon Shaw
    Posted 28th October 2010 at 8:33 am | Permalink
    John Fraser
    ”it would of course be madness if an average family was haviong £21K spent on their rent . These of course an NOT averaged families but tend to be the ones with 7 or 8 or more kids. ”

    I quite agree that it can be dangerous talking about “non average” families, so let’s talk about more average situations.

    The equivalent maximum for a 3 bedroom house will be £340 per week, rather than £400 per week. That’s £17,700 pa in rent.

    Are you really suggesting, John, that an annual limit of £17,700 for rent on an “average” family house is “unfair”?
    ……………………………….
    No I didn’t suggest that Simon I can only repeat that it is the £25K total benefit cieling that will be the thing that rips (mainly ) larger families to shreads. I am starting to thing that these Housing benefir ceilings have been brought in at a ‘farily’ raesonable rate (apart from the very large family case) for a reason so people can use them as red herrings to avoid the real questions . namely the 10% cut in housing benefit for genuine job seekers after a year …donts you agree this is just plain spiteful Simon? as well as the 25K ceiling already mentioned .

  • John Fraser
    ”it would of course be madness if an average family was haviong £21K spent on their rent . These of course an NOT averaged families but tend to be the ones with 7 or 8 or more kids. ”

    I’m sorry, John, but I am still not clear if you think that the proposed overriding limits are reasonable.

    You stated that it would be madness if “average” families could have £21,000 spent on their rent, but made the (perfectly reasonable) point that this limit was only really applicable to very large families.

    Taking a 3 bedroom house as being more “average” the overriding limit will be £17,700 pa in rent.

    I think that is fair, but I am interested to know if you agree?

  • I can’t help feeling that some politicians are way out of line with public opinion on this issue.

    I don’t mean just the predictable “Daily Mail-type” public opinion, but even “Guardian-type” public opinion.

    An overwhelming proportion of posters on a recent Guardian Comment thread supported the Coalition Government’s plan: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/oct/27/government-committed-to-housing-benefit-cap

    And it wasn’t just postings, but the “Recommended” count as well.

  • @John Fraser
    You did ask, and as it happens, I do have serious misgivings about the 10% cut after a year issue.

    However most of the postings on LDV on this and on a parallel thread have been concerned about the overriding weekly HB limit, and the reduction in the local (BRMA) limit from 50th percentile to 30th percentile.

    On those I think the Coalition Government are doing their best to correct grave abuses which Labour did little or nothing to deal with.

  • @Simon Shaw
    Taking a 3 bedroom house as being more “average” the overriding limit will be £17,700 pa in rent.

    I think that is fair, but I am interested to know if you agree?
    …………………………………………..
    This particular limit does not appear at first glance to be terribly onerous or unfair. Those against welfare cuts should look at the picture as a whole rather than these limits .

    Love to know what you think of the £26K absolute ceiling on welfare … regardless of family size ?

  • @John Fraser
    I certainly support the principle of the £26,000 “absolute ceiling”, and I imagine that a very large proportion of voters think the same.

    The fact that I use the words “support the principle” clearly implies that I would welcome the Coalition Government ensuring that there was not any manifest unfairness towards very large families

  • John Fraser 30th Oct '10 - 8:24am

    @Simon
    I certainly support the principle of the £26,000 “absolute ceiling”, and I imagine that a very large proportion of voters think the same.

    The fact that I use the words “support the principle” clearly implies that I would welcome the Coalition Government ensuring that there was not any manifest unfairness towards very large families

    ………………….#

    Here you have the internal contradiction of your position. You call for an absolute ceiling but just can’t quite bring yourself to justify the effects on larger families. Allow exceptioons for larger families and you end up being more or less back where we are .

  • @John Fraser
    That’s not what I said. I said that I supported the principle of the £26,000 “absolute ceiling”. I don’t happen to think that the ceiling results in “manifest unfairness” to larger families, but I trust the Coalition Government to take account of any evidence to the contrary.

    I am convinced that a very large proportion of voters strongly support the “absolute ceiling”, and I assume that they will base that view on their own experiences and those of their friends and neighbours.

    My wife and I have a “larger” family – 4 children in their late teens/early 20s – and I would be fairly certain that for most if not all of the last 20 years we have managed to live on an income (earnings net of tax/NI and benefits) of under £26,000 (in real terms).

    And I always thought of ourselves as “well off” – although that was little to do with money.

  • matt
    Family of 6
    … … …
    £17’700 Housing Benefit

    We never received Housing Benefit, but the idea that you should think that it is perfectly OK for a family to receive £17,700 pa in HB would astound most people.

    It is your attitude which is (in part) responsible for the mess the housing benefit system has now become.

  • Liberal Neil 2nd Nov '10 - 4:35pm

    @matt

    I don’t see any contradiction in Simon saying that he supports an upper limit of £17,700 and saying that he thinks ‘the thought that it is perfectly OK for a family to receive £17,700 pa in HB would astound most people.’

    These two comments are entirely consistent.

  • Liberal Neil 2nd Nov '10 - 4:39pm

    @matt

    Family of 6

    £26000 benefit cap

    £17’700 Housing Benefit
    £1,438.80 Average Council Tax Bill in England

    £19138.80 Total Housing and Council Tax Benefit

    £26000 – £19138.80 (Housing Costs)= £6861.20 A Year

    £6861.20/52 weeks =£131.94
    To Feed and clothe a family of 6, Pay Gas, Electric, Water, Tv Licence and Travel Costs.
    £131.94 / 6 peeople = £21.99 A week (Per person) or £3.14 a Head Per Day

    This is probably why nearly everybody on an income of £26K a year doesn’t live in a house that costs £17,700 a year.

  • Liberal Neil 2nd Nov '10 - 4:55pm

    @matt

    The Rents in London and the South East in General are extortionate

    Rents in London and the South East are generally higher than in other parts of the country, and in some areas are very high, but the LHA rates refelct this by being linked to the 30th percentile. In each LHA area there will be a range of rent levels, and in London in particular public transport is good.

    Thousands of working people in London on Low Wages, Ie a Binman earning 25k a year, would not be able to afford to live in London, unless he had access to Housing Benefit.

    Under the Government’s proposals a binman (or woman) will still be entitled to claim Housing Benefit, if they live in private rented accommodation.

    Is an MP more important to our society than a Nurse, who is reliant on Housing Benefit to allow her to live and work in the Capital?

    As will nurses.

  • Liberal Neil 2nd Nov '10 - 5:00pm

    @matt

    Thousands of working people in London on Low Wages, Ie a Binman earning 25k a year

    BTW by what definition is £25K a year a’low wage’?

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