Thursday, December 7, 2023

Myles’ Blog: The Bedroom Tax…..

The ‘Bedroom Tax’ – Cameron’s Poll Tax?

“WE’RE ALL in this together.” – David Cameron

“I would disagree with the Tory mantra, dragged out at every opportunity, and coined by PM David Cameron, as the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ so clearly demonstrates. I am, however, getting a little ahead of myself as first we need to look at the specific facts about what the ‘bedroom tax’ is and who it will affect but as we look at the facts, I would like you to keep in mind that overly-used mantra.

The Facts About The ‘Bedroom Tax’

The truth is that it is not a tax at all but a surcharge on any ‘spare’ bedrooms you may happen to have.

It is not a tax because it does not apply to everyone.

The people affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ are those who claim Housing Benefit and who live in social housing and housing association accommodation and are of working age.

Typical claimants receive between £50 and £100 a week in Housing Benefit.

It does not affect those who rent private sector tenants.
From April 1st, local authorities will look at families to assess their ‘living space’ needs based on the Government’s ‘size criteria’.

Government estimates are that 660,000 households will suffer a cut in their benefit. According to the Government’s own Impact Assessment almost two thirds of the tenants affected are from households that contain someone who is disabled, a total of 420,000 households.

The calculation around how much the cut in Housing Benefit will be – for one ‘spare’ room, the amount of rent eligible for assistance will be reduced by 15%; for two ‘spare’ rooms, the amount is reduced by 25%.

The average reduction in benefit will be £14 a week for council tenants and £16 a week for housing association tenants. DWP figures project that about 7 per cent of Housing Benefit claimants will face a cut of £31.

The ‘living space’ criteria is one room per adult or couple, same gender children under 16 will have to share a room and under-10s will have to share a room regardless of gender. Disabled tenants will be allowed a ‘spare’ room for full-time carers.

The number of bedrooms is not determined by the Government but by the tenancy agreement drawn up by landlords.
Parents who are separated may not keep a ‘spare’ room for a child to visit and foster children are not classed as permanent members of a family.

Families with students who live away from home will be exempted from the ‘bedroom tax’ as long as the student stays at home for at least two weeks a year. However, when Universal Credit is introduced, the student must live at home for six months in the year to avoid the benefit cut.

If claimants have a paying lodger, they will be allowed to keep the first £20 of rent income but then the benefit they receive will be cut pound-for-pound. However, upon the introduction of Universal Credit, Housing Benefit will be cut entirely but the rental income can be kept (with the first £4,250 being exempt from Income Tax).

From April, only one person in a couple needs to be of pensionable age to gain an exemption from ‘bedroom tax’; however, under Universal Credit, both will need to be of pensionable age or one must be in receipt of pension credit to gain the maximum benefit.

If tenants do not wish to lose benefit, the Government is expecting them to move to smaller accommodation.

What People Are Saying About The ‘Bedroom Tax’ And Its Potential Effects

Iain Duncan Smith insisted that there was no ‘bedroom tax’ on The Andrew Marr Show, explaining that: “This is about under-occupancy, let’s be very clear about what this is about. We have in social sector housing, a very large number of people in houses where they have many more bedrooms than they actually need.

“Something like a million spare bedrooms are sitting around. Meanwhile, there are a quarter of a million people in overcrowding and a million people on the waiting list trying to get into housing.”

“What we’re saying to them is you can stay where you are, but if you do you’ll have to pay more.”

(You can read the full story at

David Cameron stated during Prime Minister’s Questions on Feb 6th that: “Let me make clear this in not a tax – this is a benefit… All the time Labour was in Government if you were in a private sector rented home and in receipt of housing benefit you did not get any benefit for empty rooms.

So it is only fair we treat people in social housing the same way. And, if anyone is away from home then obviously their earnings aren’t counted so therefore the benefits of that person are likely to go up.”

(You can read the full story at

David Cameron also objected to the term ‘bedroom tax’ arguing that: “It’s not a tax unless you’ve earned the money first.”

Ed Miliband said: “The policy isn’t just unfair, it’s not going to work either. In Hull for example 4,700 people are going to be hit by the bedroom tax, and there are just 73 council properties for them to move to.”

(You can read the full story at

Stephen Timms said that the plans for the ‘bedroom tax’ were “perverse” and “not been thought out properly” adding: “Take the example of Hull, which as Grant Shapps knows is not untypical.

“4,700 tenants are going to be affected by this penalty, but they’ve only got 73 one- or two-bed properties available. It is impossible for people to move within the social sector to smaller accommodation.

“We’ve argued for the last two years that it would be fine to apply the penalty where people have refused to take smaller accommodation, but to penalise people when there’s nowhere smaller to move to is perverse.”

Grant Shapps said: “Labour have very cleverly deemed this to be a tax; of course it’s exactly the opposite to a tax.

“It’s a spare-rooms subsidy, that’s being paid through the benefits system, on a million empty bedrooms in this country, which makes no sense.”

(You can read the full story at

Liam Byrne, shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “David Cameron promised to stand up for parents, but his bedroom tax is a £100m tax bombshell for single mums and dads.

“The bedroom tax has now been exposed as a chaotic disaster, but it’s not too late for the prime minister to do the decent thing, admit he has got this wrong and think again.”

(You can read the full story at

In response to a letter sent out by One Vision Housing, a housing association in Liverpool, blogger SPeye (Joe Halewood), wrote: “The letter is appalling and it is offensive and it is just plain wrong.

“The letter starts with a very legalistic heading ‘Under Occupation Disclaimer’ and the word ‘disclaimer’ will be perceived as legalese and a legal requirement by the tenant and something they have to sign, which they do not. But of course OVH don’t say this!

“The legal position has always been that a tenant is responsible for ensuring the rent is paid and in full – even if HB pay the rent in full and direct to the landlord as they sign the tenancy agreement to that effect! So, firstly there is no legal need for this letter yet OVH gives to the tenant the precise opposite perception that the letter is legally needed and tenants need and have to sign it.”

(You can read the full story at

Although there is to be a discretionary fund to help foster carers, not all areas will be covered by the scheme as Vicky Swain of The Foster Network explains:

“We’ve had foster carers who have received letters from their housing departments telling them they will not have access to discretionary fund, and worse still, that they may have to downsize.”

“The money available is discretionary, it is up to individual local authorities how they spent that money and on whom. Foster carers are already being told, in some parts of the country, they will not have access to this money, and they will be using it for other, more needy groups of people.”

Harvey Gallagher, chief executive of the Nationwide Association of Fostering Providers, said: “Children who come into care need their own bedroom, equally, some fosters carers need a spare bedroom with nobody in it, as some children come into care in emergency situations, we need to find homes for them at the last minute.”

Tashii from Norfolk tweeted: “@itvnews I’ve been told I will have to pay council tax also so somehow have to magic £80+ a month! I was PUT in this house WITHOUT CHOICE!”

Heather Simpson tweeted: “@itvnews i have find a extra £100 a month im disabled put in my house only adapted place without no choice might go on rent strike”

@AmyJoanna tweeted: “Disgusted at govs new bedroom tax after seeing how it will effect disabled people with low income. @itvnews story just made me cry :-(“

@WythenshaweBi tweeted: “@itvnews b/room tax targets most vulnerable in society unfairly. Housing lists will go crazy – several house moves necessary in family life”

A family are being denied a room for their severely disabled daughter. Dianne and Tony stated that the changes will mean they will be put under “unbearable” financial pressure.

(You can read the full story at

Mencap, in an open letter stated that: “This policy will have a hugely detrimental impact on disabled people and their families. For example, family carers who care full-time, or who juggle work and care, may need to sleep in another room just to get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.”
(You can read the full story at


Lisa Munden, a disabled woman, wrote an open letter to Iain Duncan Smith stating that: “Due to the nature of my disability I am in constant pain and my legs have a lot of spasms. In order for my partner to get some quality sleep in between getting up to help me and so he can care for me the next day, he sleeps in our second bedroom.

The change could end up costing the local authorities a lot more money than the rent on a second bedroom if they have to provide the overnight care that the people like my partner do out of love.

We would also like to invite you to come and meet us to see first-hand how the ‘bedroom tax’ is going to affect us and many others in similar situations.”
(You can read the full letter at

Grand Union Housing Group conducted a case study on Ann, a disabled resident of South Northants Homes. She stated that, although she may be awarded a discretionary fund pay-out: “I have been told this might be a small payment which won’t go anywhere. But I consider myself luckier than some. What about disabled people who are living in three or four bedroomed family homes? They might have lived there for years.

“I would love to work. I worked before in various jobs, but always sitting. I worked for the Nationwide for five years. Then I moved to a smaller place. But my health suffered. Then I got made redundant. I really hope to be able to work again. It’s just really hard with my disabilities.”

(You can read the full story at

Channel 4’s FactCheck Blog put straight some errors in David Cameron’s statements about the ‘bedroom tax’, or ‘spare room subsidy’ as he likes to call it, during Prime Minister’s Questions on March 6th. Cameron stated that people with severely disabled children were exempt from the penalty. FactCheck disagreed: “No.

There’s no automatic exemption for disabled children.

“In fact, not only is the government not making this blanket exception, it is actually fighting a legal challenge on the point from 10 disabled children who argue that the rule changes amount to discrimination.

“Under the new rules, the full benefit will only be paid if under-16s of the same sex share a room, and under-10s will have to share regardless of gender. And the expectation is that this will apply to disabled youngsters too.”

FactCheck mentioned the discretionary fund being set up by the Government but concluded that: “So there is some money available and councils are expected to use some discretion, perhaps mitigating the impact for the most severely disabled, but there is no “exemption” for disabled children overall.”

Cameron stated that people who needed round-the-clock care are exempt as well. FactCheck again disagreed, stating that: “DWP has said that an extra bedroom is allowed if a disabled person has a live-in or overnight carer. But that doesn’t apply if the carer is also your partner or spouse.

“If you are disabled and your wife is also your full-time carer, but needs to sleep in a different room, you will still face a benefit cut.

“Again, you could be eligible for money from the hardship fund, but that doesn’t amount to an exemption to everyone who needs 24-hour care.”

(You can read the full FactCheck blog at

Dr Éoin Clarke (PhD) believes that the ‘bedroom tax’ will cost the Coalition seats at the next election. 19 Government held seats, including Thurrock, have sitting MPs with smaller majorities than the number of households in their constituency affected by the Bedroom Tax. He continued: “In 2010, 6 of these MPs, above, would not have won their seats were it not for voters who are now victims of the Bedroom Tax. None of them would have won their seats were it not for the votes of Social Renters in general.

This data means that even if we exclude the political fall out of Bedroom Tax protests, that up to 19 of the MPs above are on the brink of losing their seats in 2015, even if we only consider social renters alone. When we consider just victims of the Bedroom Tax, then 6 MPs are on the verge of losing their seats specifically due to this policy. The truth is that the real picture is much worse than that again, especially when we factor in the wider politics of the Bedroom Tax.”

(You can read the full blog here:

Legal Challenges Against The ‘Bedroom Tax’

The spirit of defiance has not completely been knocked out of the people most at risk of the ‘bedroom tax’ as a disabled couple have taken the Government to the High Court over what they say is a discriminatory policy. You can view the news report here:

Ten disabled and vulnerable children have also lodged legal challenges in the High Court, claiming that the new legislation does not take into account the needs of vulnerable children and are therefore discriminatory. The children who are taking the legal action have all been assessed as needing their own rooms but under the new rules are going to be forced to share with their siblings.

Rebekah Carrier, the solicitor acting on behalf of the children stated that: “These changes will have a catastrophic impact on our clients and many thousands more vulnerable children and adults. Experts have assessed my clients as being unable to share a room with their siblings.

“The government is advising these families to consider taking in a lodger to make up the financial shortfall, but this is a ludicrous suggestion. None of these families have a spare room available because the rooms are already being used It is also very surprising that the government is advising families with disabled children, and children suffering trauma following serious abuse, to invite a stranger into their home.”

(You can read the full story at

Now It Is My Turn…

I deliberately started out this article with the famous Cameron quote because it demonstrates just how deluded our infamous leader truly is. If we really are in it together, why are most of his Cabinet’s policies biased against the poor, the sick and disabled?

As has been ably shown by the comments above, Cameron shows complete disdain for the people unfortunate enough to have to live in social housing and who have to claim Housing Benefit. Saying that the changes are “not a tax unless you’ve earned the money first” are completely uncalled for considering that many people on Housing Benefit are low-paid workers – low-paid, I may add, because the UK may have a Minimum Wage but it is not, especially in the current climate where the cost of living outstrips the increase in wages, a Living Wage.

And for those who are not in work, the ‘bedroom tax’ is basically saying that the poor have no right to a bit of extra living space. I have to mention here that most people on benefits are claiming them quite legally and necessarily with less than 1% of claims being fraudulent according to the DWP’s own statistics.
Cameron and his cronies would trot out the argument that renters in the private sector have had restrictions imposed upon the amount of living space they are allowed for years. I would counter that argument with the argument that rents in the private sector are much higher than in social housing run by the council or housing associations and are therefore a greater drain on the public purse than the social housing/housing association tenants who are being targeted by this appalling policy.

I have no doubt that there is a lack of social housing but part of that problem can be traced to Thatcher’s Tory Government and their selling off of huge swathes of social housing. It was a great idea as it allowed people to become homeowners, however, it also meant that the housing market boomed and prices sky-rocketed, meaning that first-time buyers coming along afterwards would find it harder to get onto the property ladder. Neither Thatcher’s nor any other successive administration took this into account and failed spectacularly in replacing the sold off properties with new social housing. I would add at this point that most people in social housing would rather not be there but have no choice.

I am not personally going to suffer at the hands of this ‘bedroom tax’ as I was turned down for Housing Benefit despite being within the threshold for eligibility. If I were to be a victim, I would be a victim of circumstance because my wife and I were assigned a two-bedroom flat as we were a couple and that was the proper assignment for couples. How many others are in a position that they were assigned a property that they will now find themselves penalised for?

What really annoys me is that the Government seems to think that they are doing nothing wrong with this legislation and that they are not targeting the poor and most disadvantaged. However, how can they say that with a straight face when the ‘bedroom tax’ is not being applied equally to people rattling around huge homes that they may own but take up much more space than they are allowing the poor and disadvantaged?

If we are truly “all in this together”, everyone should be taxed on the amount of spare rooms they have. Council Tax should be amended to add a surcharge for every spare room a person has in their property.

The ‘bedroom tax’ has been dubbed ‘Cameron’s Poll Tax’ but that is not the case because the ‘bedroom tax’ does not apply to everyone. However, with the amount of ill-feeling and protests it is generating, perhaps it will have the same effect on Cameron as the Poll Tax did on Thatcher. The Poll Tax buried her and, with any luck, the ‘bedroom tax’ will bury Cameron.


  1. jmw118 – Thanks for your comment.

    rocket1 – It was selling of social housing during the Thatcher Government that is partly to blame for the current problem. When successive governments failed to build more it left us with less social housing than is needed to cope with demand. Thanks to market forces, rents in the private sector are so high that private renters require more money in Housing Benefit to stay where they are than people in social housing. Market forces are also to blame for the over-inflated house prices for properties on the housing market making it harder for first-time buyers to get on the property ladder meaning they need social housing. And finally, market forces and rich and unscrupulous individuals saw an opportunity to buy up social housing properties during the first round of ‘right-to-buy’ started so they could rent them out privately thus forcing people who may have had the chance to get onto the property ladder into a situation where they either needed social housing or extra money in Housing Benefit. Market forces may be good in some respects but they don’t help at all when dealing with the need for and lack of social housing. In fact, market forces have always been and always will be part of the problem. Most people would love to become a homeowner but most of us never will be because of market forces in the property market made worse by Thatcher’s short-sighted policy.

  2. yes but isn’t ”affordable” housing driving up house prices?,if a developer has to set aside a third of his new estate for ”afordable” i.e. subsidized housing,he will increase the price of the other two thirds of the estate to cover his loss.

  3. rocket1 – Developers are not into affordable housing, they’re in the industry to make money. Affordable housing is social housing build, owned and run by local authorities to help those people who cannot afford to put their foot on the property ladder. Market forces-driven industries such as property developers and estate agents have pushed up house prices to fill their own pockets at the expense of the poor people who then have to rely on social housing because they can’t afford a mortgage.

  4. Why is it wrong to cut Housing Benefit for those is overlarge social housing. If it encourages them to downsize then it will free up the property for someone in need. If they want to keep their overlarge property then there is always something called work to pay their rent.

    There isn’t an infinite supply of social housing. It has to be rationed to the most needy hence the every growing waiting lists.

    Why should a single person live in a taxpayer funded 3 bedroom house if his or her children have grown up and left home?

    The only changes I would make is protect couples who for medical reasons or severe disabilities have to sleep in separate bedrooms and scrap the rules that two children of the same sex and under 16 can share a bedroom in cases where one of the children has severe disabilities or for medical reasons requires a separate bedroom.

    I would also extend the restriction of housing benefit for overlarge properties to pensioners but at the same time offer incentives to encourage those in overlarge properties to downsize to more suitably sized properties thus freeing up larger homes for families on the waiting lists.

    One flaw in the changes that are coming into force in April is that there has been no transitional protection period to enable those impacted by the changes to continue receiving their full benefit, for a further 52 weeks for example, giving them enough time to either adjust their finances to prepare to pay the shortfall or to give them time to look for smaller properties or time for their landlord to transfer them to smaller properties when they become available.

    Every other change to housing benefit that reduces benefit entitlement has

  5. rocket1 – I read part of the article you gave the link for but stopped when I realised it was written by someone fixating on a case from the less than 1% of claimants who give the rest a bad name and are trotted out when all arguments have failed.

  6. rocket1 – I read part of the article you gave the link for but stopped when I realised it was written by someone fixating on a case from the less than 1% of claimants who give the rest a bad name and are trotted out when all arguments have failed.

    Your last comment is insulting and not worthy of a response other than to say that it shows that you can’t win an argument without making ignorant remarks.

  7. Ed – You say that people rattling around in large taxpayer-funded properties should downsize. I totally agree as long as every MP gives up their mansions to downsize as well. We are all in this together you know!

    However, some people, like myself and my wife, were put into a two-bedroom flat without any choice. Is it right to punish them for the Council’s actions?

    As I mentioned in my article, a lot of claimants are low-paid workers so your comment that there is such a thing as work is offensive.

    The point of my piece is that, once again, the poor and disadvantaged are the targets of discriminatory policies. More money would make its way into the country’s coffers if everyone had to pay more for living in houses larger than they really need. Don’t just lump everything on the shoulders of those who are least able to carry the load of a financial mess created by the rich.

    Please bear in mind that as I don’t receive Housing Benefit I can be objective as I neither benefit or suffer from the changes.

  8. i don’t understand why i am ignorant,if everyone can get a subsidized tax payer funded house why will they bother buying one and strapping a mortgage around their necks?.

  9. So what is your solution Myles? Other than completely concrete over most of our green belt with new houses so every low paid worker can have a house?

    There is something that after 13 years of Labour we have run short of….its called aspiration. Like her or lump her Thatcher inspired working class people to want more, to better themselves, to re-educate themselves. In the long run his meant more working class people moving into ‘middle class’ professions and prospering. New Labour wrecked that aspirational streak and replaced it with state dependancy where everything and anything was subsidised. Now the country has little money left for such generosity you can do one of two things. Increase tax for everyone (including reversing the bottom rate tax limit) or make those who want the extra rooms pay for the extra rooms. As long as concessions are made for pensioners and the disabled etc I am in favour of it. I certainly do not see why I should pay more tax for someone to have spare rooms if they are more than capable of moving into a different, more suitable home.

    I do agree with you that Labour and Tory governments since the 80s did not plug the social housing gap and we are paying for the consequences now.

  10. rocket1 – Your comment said “what you mean is you think the state should provide everyone with a free house.” That is not what I said at all therefore an ignorant comment to make.

    What I said was that many people are unable to get on the property ladder because of the over-inflated prices of property and there is therefore a need for social housing which is affordable so that everyone can have a roof over their head. Some people need some help to pay their rent because of low pay or disadvantage that prevents them from working. Your disdain of such individuals will be partially pandered to as everyone on the replacement for Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit will have to pay at least some of the rent and Council Tax…even if they have to starve to do so. I hope that makes you all nice and warm inside.

  11. Bernard87 – You’re wrong, aspiration isn’t dead, it just isn’t easy to actually achieve one’s ambitions when one is ground underfoot. My aspirations are small – I’d like to own a house with a garden and a job with which to pay the bills and have a reasonable standard of living. I am very unlikely to ever be able to own my own house as I’ve never had a job that earned me enough to save for a deposit on a property or get a decent mortgage because the cost of property shot up thanks to the Iron Bitch who didn’t foresee the long-term implications of her ‘right-to-buy’ policy. That’s not to say that the ‘right-to-buy’ policy was wrong just short-sighted in terms of the long-term damage it would do to later generations of prospective homebuyers.

    I have no answer to give as to how the situation is solved, do you?

    You seem to think that those in social housing should not be allowed spare rooms but there is a great deal of research that suggests that mental health issues are exacerbated by cramped living conditions so making people move into smaller accommodation is detrimental to their mental health which will mean more people needing mental health services that are already stretched to the limit now. One piece of research actually stated that living in a block of flats is highly detrimental to one’s mental health and I believe that entirely as I have lived in flats my whole life and I have suffered with depression since the age of seven.

    Unfortunately, the tax break supposedly given to the lowest paid as a measure of fairness does nothing of the sort as everyone benefits from the increase of untaxed personal allowance whilst the poor and disadvantaged are hit hardest by all the tax hikes (VAT, fuel, etc) and cost of living rises that better-off individuals can handle so much better. As the poorest and most vulnerable get worse off, the chances of achieving their modest aspirations wither on the vine, leading to the impression that aspiration is dead when it most certainly isn’t. As the cuts bite harder and with tuition fees in most educational institutions hitting the maximum of £9000, it is even harder to reach for a better life that some people take for granted. Most politicians in Parliament benefited from a free education but now deny that boon from current generations, an error on Labour’s part compounded by the Tory-led Coalition. Students may have been able to get part-time jobs to help pay their tuition fees but that’s not so easy now that the Tories are flooding the job market with free slave labour thanks to the Workfare programme, a programme that reduces the amount of people working and contributing to the economy by paying tax and NI and thereby adding to the welfare bill.

    Aspiration only exists in a country where the opportunity for social advancement is present. That does not describe the UK at this current moment in time.

    The housing gap exists because the selling-off of social housing and the lack of Governmental control over house pricing. This is a problem that both the Tories and Labour are guilty of exacerbating and they should all be damned for letting it happen.

  12. March 8, 2013 – 9:51 pm
    So what is your solution Myles? Other than completely concrete over most of our green belt with new houses so every low paid worker can have a house?

    No Bernard not over the Green Belt, on sites of great ecological importance For Example Arena Essex and the Northern Ash Field site West Thurrock voted for in Full council November 2012 by all nearly all political parties

  13. I make no apologies for suggesting that work is a way to pay your rent.

    If you can no longer afford to live in an overlarge property then either pay and stay or downsize.

    Those who rent in the private sector have never been allowed surplus bedrooms and have had their Housing Benefit restricted if they are in overlarge accommodation.

    On a separate subject It is interesting that David Cameron appears to have made errors by saying all those with severely disabled children and all those with carers will be exempt from the changes in his answer in the House of Commons on Wednesday. For someone who is so well briefed it is difficult to believe those who prepare his answers to questions would have made such obvious mistakes – unless of course there are going to be changes to the scheme announced in the Budget next week.

  14. Ed – As I have already said (and, though I would rather not repeat myself, it seems that I have to to drum the message into your consciousness) – most people claiming Housing Benefit are LOW-PAID WORKERS because they don’t earn enough due to the Minimum Wage not being a proper Living Wage. I point out that I said this in the article and in a previous comment. It pays to read the everything someone writes before you pick on a point that has already been covered.

    MP’s live in taxpayer-funded second homes that are larger than they actually need so they should downsize too. So should homeowners who live in houses they rattle around in. People in social housing, like myself I may add, suffer enough indignity living in barely insulated, mould-ridden, difficult (and extremely expensive) to heat hovels without being expected to downsize causing further mental distress to the already insufferable torment we have to endure because we cannot and probably never will ne able to escape the social housing trap and get a foot on the property ladder which I assume from your comments you have already climbed a few rungs of.

    Having to repeat myself yet again for your benefit – people who rent in the private sector have to pay much higher rents because the private sector is run by market forces and unscrupulous individuals who buy up properties in order to exploit the lack of social housing caused by the short-sighted Thatcher ‘right-to-buy’ policy and the almost total lack of social housing construction by every Government since. The higher rents charged by the private sector mean that those who could not get a social housing property but need help with their rent in the form of Housing Benefit have to claim for a larger amount than those in social housing therefore costing the taxpayer more in welfare payments. To keep the cost of claims by private sector tenants down to a minimum, the rules were put in place to make sure that the minimum living space was being paid for. Social housing, on the other hand, is already at the cheapest possible price in terms of rent value and therefore constitutes the best value for money for the taxpayer with regards to welfare expenditure. I live in a two-bedroom council flat which is on the lowest Council Tax band and costs £378 per month in rent. For six months in 2002, my wife and I rented a flat in the private sector when we were forced to grab whatever property we could find or be made homeless as Thurrock Council were absolutely no help whatsoever. The rent on that private sector flat was £400 a month – and that was in 2002! I dread to think what that flat is being rented out for now.

    So, in conclusion, why don’t you look elsewhere for someone to persecute because not only do you have no idea what you’re talking about, you are so obviously outclassed by my arguments that you need to keep raising the same points over and over again and, quite frankly, some of your comments are extremely offensive to people who are being persecuted enough by a Government you so obviously support. Don’t bother raising any issues I have already given comprehensive answers to because I’m tired of pandering to obtuse people who don’t know when they’re beaten; if you have a new point to raise I will respond otherwise go away.

  15. sorry for the delay in answering you myles but i have been in on overtime today,i actually have quite a high regard for Margaret Thatcher,she completely transformed my families lives,when she brought in the right to buy my parents bought their three bed council house in grays for eight thousand pounds,then as my father was working in a nationalized industry he was offered discount shares when it was privatized which he then sold to pay off his mortgage and enough was left over to give my parents a comfortable retirement,when they passed away away enough money was left to pay off my mortgage and i now live in my home free of charge,also i rent our their old council house to a low income family on benefits.i have manged to get my son a very good education in Thurrock schools and he has been offered a place at one of the top universities in England to study mathamatics.i would love to thank Mrs Thatcher personally,she helped a lot of working class people.

  16. If I choose to rent privately or purchase a property via a mortgage, with my own money , then I will choose to live in the best house/home for me and my family and if that happens to be 6 bedrooms rather than 3 and I can afford to pay it I will, and I will not be dictated to by anyone. However if i do not earn enough money to rent privately or purchase via a mortgage then I would expect the council to place me in a propery that is the best home for me and my family and that certainly would not be 4 bedrooms when 2 will suffice. I do think Myles that youa re missing a very valid point that it is not a tax until you have earned the money and as most of the people we are talikng about are receiving money from you and me then I strongly agree that there should be very strict rules and regulations in an extremely difficult financial governance situation. If these peopl do not downsie then larger families who have hit hard times will not be able to live in a suitable home as the council doesn’t have the stock. I do agree that that the council should look to build more of a housing stock by using its ample reserves, but I also believe that this new housing stock should not be rented on a “home for life” basis with tenancy agreements of no more than 5 years before being means tested, this I think may help to alleviate the problem.

  17. rocket1 – Don’t get me wrong, ‘right-to-buy’ was good in the short-term for the people who benefited; however, the long-term consequences of that policy have been detrimental to the following generations.

    As for Thatcher, we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  18. chickenfeed1 – If the ‘spare room surcharge’ as Cameron likes to call it is to be fair, it should apply to all households or it is discriminatory.

    With the danger of me having to repeat myself yet again (but as you are a new commenter, I’ll do so) – a great proportion of Housing Benefit claimants are LOW-PAID WORKERS! Those people at least, even you, must acknowledge have earned the right to call it a ‘bedroom tax’ and your comment, dragged straight from Cameron’s deceitful mouth, is offensive to the low-paid claimants and to anyone who cares about fairness in society. I quoted Cameron to show an impartiality in the main body of the article; you quoting Cameron is offensive and you should be ashamed but I suppose, as a Tory supporter, you have no capacity to understand or feel shame.

    I only use the term ‘bedroom tax’ because that is the term that is being used in general conversation so don’t criticise me for using it. It doesn’t affect me because I was turned down for Housing and Council Tax Benefits.

  19. i don’t think its a bedroom tax,people can’t expect the tax payer to over supply their housing needs.

  20. rocket1 – Then, perhaps, you can tell that to the hundreds of MPs who have taxpayer-funded second homes that are larger than their needs. Or the Royal family who also live in taxpayer-funded homes that exceed their actual living requirements. Or rich people in huge mansions. Or people who appear on shows like “Escape to the Country” who look for properties much larger than they actually require for their families.

    The last two groups might not be taxpayer-funded but they take up a lot of living space that could be used to build small properties on.

    Whatever you call the ‘bedroom tax’, it is a means of eroding the rights of the poor to generate income thus reducing the Housing Benefit bill. Fine. But, to be fair, a surcharge on everyone with ‘spare’ rooms that exceed their living requirements will also generate much needed income in this time of austerity when we are supposed to all be in this together.

    I would like to point out that it’s not the poor, the sick, the disabled and disadvantaged that caused the financial mess the UK is in; it’s the bankers who caused a global financial meltdown, it’s the successive Governments (both Labour and Tory) who allowed living costs to outstrip household incomes, it’s Labour for selling off the UK’s gold at rock bottom prices, it’s your precious market forces that are driving High Street shops into administration, it’s the previous Government for failing to properly regulate the banking sector in the first place, it’s the Labour and Tory Government’s fault for allowing such massive tax avoidance to take place and, finally, it’s the current Government’s fault for failing to close the loopholes that allow the avoidance of tax when they can see that the income that would be generated would obviate the need for any cuts in the first place.

    Where the problem was caused by the people listed above, the current Government is blaming the poor buggers who are the least to blame and expecting them to pay for the mistakes of previous Governments and the current Government’s spectacular policy failures.

    David Cameron has been lying to the British public for years now saying that the Office of Budget Responsibility agreed with him that his austerity measures of deep public spending cuts was not adversely affecting economic growth. He claimed that the OBR had made it “absolutely clear” that spending cuts and tax rises were not responsible for the UK’s weak economy in his speech on Thursday but the OBR said that it had actually been arguing for years that it was an issue. So far from making the situation better with his agenda, he is making it worse and blaming everyone and everything except himself, his administration’s failed policies and the people actually responsible. The Government blamed the snow in December last year for the dip in economic growth following a quarter in which there was some growth, failing to add that the growth was due to the one-off event which you may have heard about – the London 2012 Olympics. I half expect Cameron to blame the wind changing direction for poor economic growth so he can continue to persecute the poor and disadvantaged. Or perhaps he’ll blame the Russian meteorite. Or the glare of the sun in his eyes. Or perhaps even the Big Bang for having started the Universe in the first place. He’ll blame anyone but his Government’s failures to destroy the people he looks down upon.

  21. You can read about Cameron’s lies about the deficit here (if any Tory supporters have the stomach for the truth) in this article, written by a Tory supporter, Ramesh Patel. Patel is an economist so knows what he’s talking about and said that he had no pleasure in exposing Cameron’s lies about the deficit, making Patel a Tory I can respect for his integrity… and I never thought I’d be able to say that about a Tory. The link is:

  22. Your last paragraph of your 1.48pm response demonstrates what an extremely childish and petulant individual you are.

    It is more offensive to have people in the benefits trap where it is more beneficial to remain unemployed than being employed. Only by reforming the welfare system so work pays can the benefits trap be broken.

    Why is it ‘offensive’ and ‘persecuting’ to suggest working to pay ones way in life? Those who are able should be encouraged and incentivised to work.

    Your statement that most Housing Benefit claimants are working is wrong. About 80% of claimants are pensioners and the unemployed. Only about 20% are working. There are plenty of statistics available from the DWP to verify these figures.

    Social housing is a limited resource and appropriate sized homes should go to the appropriate sized family or individual. Why should a single individual be allowed to live in a 3 bedroom house at the taxpayers expense when there are plenty of families needing that 3 bedroom property? I see nothing wrong with cutting the benefit and giving incentives to encourage that individual to downsize thus freeing up that overlarge property to a family that needs it.

    I am so sorry to read that living in social housing, to quote your own words… “suffer enough indignity living in barely insulated, mould [sic]-ridden, difficult (and extremely expensive) to heat hovels…” and that remaining in social housing is an “insufferable torment”. Have you tried moving from, quoting your own words, your mold ridden hovel as its causing you such insufferable torment? Thurrock Council has been rather proud boasting of the number of council homes that exceed the Governments decent homes standards but is this just a sham and are they really all mold infested hovels that cause insufferable torment to their tenants?

    I do know a thing or three about Housing Benefit and all the various reforms over the past 21 years – far more than you will ever have in fact.

    This is the first cut in housing benefit that I can recall that hasn’t been accompanied by any transitional protection. For example when restrictions to Housing Benefit for under 35s came force last April those impacted were protected for 9 months before their benefit was cut. When the £15 weekly Local Housing Allowance excess provision was scrapped in April 2011 those impacted had 9 months transitional protection.

    Those couples, who for proven medical reasons, have to sleep in separate bedrooms, should be exempt from these changes – and this should apply to those in private rented properties as well as social housing. Those who have disabled children, who for proven medical reasons, need their own bedroom, should be exempt from the rule that 2 children under 16 of the same sex can share the same bedroom.

  23. Unfortunately life isn’t always fair. If you are in a position where you have to rely on state help, whether you work or not, than you have to bare the brunt of changes to welfare and subsidies.

    If you work, pay your taxes, claim nothing and privately rent or own your own property than the state has no right to tell you what type of home to live in just so those who have to be subsidised feel better.

    If you work and do not earn enough to live in your state subsided property than you cannot expect the terms on which you have that home to never change. The fact that the government was subsidising such people in the first place is outrageous and we have Labour to thank for that. I do agree that what we need is a decent living wage and/or some mild form of rent control like what we saw up to the 1960s. The bigger problem is that wages were driven down under Labour (something which Milliband has now admitted) by mass immigration. Housing prices soared in the private rental sector as there were more people (ie migrant workers) entering the rental market which pushed already high prices that bit higher.

    One way to get private rental prices down would be to reverse immigration (which is practically impossible) therefore emptying properties, which will make prices drop as demand will not be so great or build thousands upon thousands of new homes until supply outstrips demand. Market forces makes sense to manage property prices but not when a country suffers from unprecedented growth in population in a decade like we have seen between 2000-2010.

    Councils need to be given money to start building council houses again. Not flats. Proper family homes with gardens and parking. There is ample land around London Road, West Thurrock and South Stifford where nice council houses could have been built, but instead private sector housing is going up on those plots which doesn’t help the social housing problems that we have in Thurrock.

    As I already said right to buy was an excellent policy which gave people leverage to better themselves. In the 1990s housing associations plugged some of the gap with help from Tory and Labour governments but now they seem to work for profit and have forgotten what they were set up to do in the first place.

  24. Ed – To take your points in order –

    1) The comment you referred to does not show me to be “an extremely childish and petulant individual”, merely an individual who is fed up of having to repeat himself over and over again to a single person who obviously doesn’t get the message.

    2) Yes, it is offensive to have so many caught in the benefits trap but until there is 100% employment, a decent Living Wage and the thousands of slave workers flooding the job market because of the Tories, there will continue to be the problem. The Tories also got rid of most of the UK’s manufacturing industry as well which hasn’t helped although, to be fair, Labour didn’t exactly try to build that industry up again either.

    3) It is offensive and persecuting because many of the people the ‘bedroom tax’ will affect either are working or cannot work for some reason although, if you believe the right-wing media, all people on benefits are scroungerd who do nothing as a lifestyle choice when those people are in the very tiny minority. To those who play the system, don’t deserve the benefits they get and give the deserving claimants a bad name, I would quite willingly agree to any sanctions against them.

    4) Pensioners paid into the system so leave them out of it. The low-paid workers are paying in, however little, so leave them alone too. The unemployed come in three sorts – those willing but unable to find work for whatever reason (leave them alone), those who are by sickness or disability unable to work either temporarily or permanently (leave them alone) and those who play the system and are unwilling to work (a minority that you can do with what you please as it’s no skin off the deserving claimant’s noses).

    5) Social housing should have been replaced as Thatcher sold it off. Instead, we have a housing market it is hard to get into as a first-time buyer. Why should people in social housing be penalised for having nowhere else to go? As someone who understands the psychological effects of limited living space and of moving home, I believe that more harm will be done because more people will end up requiring mental health services as a result which will cost the taxpayer just as much if not more.

    6) This may be difficult for someone of your mentality to grasp but not everyone has the option of moving. We cannot move because we cannot afford to and need to be as close to town and the main public transport routes as possible for my various voluntary work duties. The council offered us the flat we live in after six months of us having to rent in the private sector and we only moved there because we were three days from homelessness because our landlord, my brother, wanted to move back in and the council were about as much help as a glass buttock. We couldn’t really afford the rent in the privately rented flat, which was cold, hard to heat, had a leaking toilet that it took the owner of the flat three months to repair and had no ventilation in the kitchen but we had no choice. Having moved out of a fully furnished flat into an unfurnished one took most of our savings and then the move to our current flat took the rest. We never had a chance to build up our savings because I was made redundant later that year and, after 18 months in my next job, became too unwell to stay in work. We stay in this flat because we have no way of leaving but thanks for feeling my pain.

    Thurrock Council may feel that the homes they have are of a decent standard but when you have to spend a fortune trying to heat a flat that you can still see your breath in during cold weather, in which you have to tape clingfilm across the windows and keep the curtains closed to stop the draughts and in which the lack of adequate ventilation in the bathroom leads to the growth of mould throughout the entire flat, it’s actually hard to see the decent standards being met.

    7) What you know or don’t know about the Housing Benefit changes in the past 21 years is neither here nor there; it’s what’s happening on the ground right here, right now and what will ne happening very soon that concern me.

    I will conclude with this comment – quite frankly, as I have already said, the changes don’t affect me personally as I was denied the financial assistance I needed to pay the rent and Council Tax so my wife and I struggle to make ends meet to keep a roof over our heads. This being the case, I can be objective on this issue. The use of some personal information is simply to illustrate the reality that some of us have to face because of circumstances beyond our control. Taking all that into consideration, my argument is based on my social conscience which dictates to me the position I must take on this issue. My conscience tells me that it is wrong to persecute the poor and disadvantaged simply because they have no one to stand up and fight for them, it is wrong to enact policies that are designed to single out any group in a detrimental way when we are all supposed to be making sacrifices and when the vast majority are not, and it is wrong to ignore the truth of what is happening right under your nose because it doesn’t affect you personally.

    My conscience is clear because I have a conscience and let it guide me for the betterment of all.

  25. Bernard87 – You’re right, life isn’t fair… unless, of course, you are lucky enough to have had a relatively prosperous life or happen to be an MP who lives off the State but is never targeted when cuts come around or is demonised in the same way the Tories are doing to the poor and disadvantaged.

    Times have changed. We have a growing population (for whatever reason) so the State has a duty to maximise living space and that means ALL living space. If all are penalised for living spaces larger than they need then it is fair and the State is doing its duty otherwise it’s being discriminatory and damn them for it.

    I am not going to bring immigration into this as we would still have exorbitant house prices without immigrants because high property prices is due to greed within the industry as are high rental charges in the private sector.

    The Government, both Labour and Tory, should have made sure that legislation was in place to prevent the property market from having such a price tag attached.

    I’d point out that as well as having a growth in population during those years, we also had the best economic growth until the global financial crisis. Now, who was in power back then?

    I agree with you on the need for proper houses rather than flats. Flats are bad for an individual’s mental health and having a garden can improve it whilst also giving people a chance to grow some of their own food, making it ideal for people on low incomes during this time of austerity.

    I agree to a point on the ‘right-to-buy’ policy; however, as I have previously said, the long-term effect on the housing market is partly to blame for the need for more social housing. RTB was good for those who benefited when it first came out and their families who will benefit from a nice lump sum when their parents kick the bucket (unless they were naughty boys or girls who got cut out of the will). Unfortunately, those who missed the boat, so to speak, have paid the price for those who benefited.

  26. rocket1 – Well, if that’s the truth, my heart goes out to you and that makes me wonder why you’re so down on people in social housing; if that’s a lie, then you should be ashamed of yourself for making such a comment.

    If we were in the same room I’d be able to gauge the veracity of your statement but that’s difficult to do in such an impersonal environment so my previous paragraph will have to stand as my response.

  27. And as if to prove my point on the danger of the ‘right-to-buy’ policy Thatcher introduced during her time in power…

    …Oh look, a Tory made a killing buying up ex-council properties to then rent out privately. Isn’t that against the spirit of the ‘right-to-buy’ which was meant to help people get on the property ladder? I’m sure my Tory-supporting critics won’t see anything wrong with this abuse of a policy that was meant to help those with the aspiration to become homeowners.

    Or was the real purpose of the ‘right-to-buy’ policy to give the rich (and, therefore, predominantly Tory-supporting) greedy property moguls a chance to pick up properties cheaply in order to exploit the people who would have nowhere else to go thanks to the lack of social housing?

    Interesting hypothesis, isn’t it?

  28. For my Tory-supporting critics who are too lazy to read the article I mentioned above, here is a very telling excerpt:

    “Tycoon Charles Gow and his wife own at least
    40 ex-council flats on one South London

    His father Ian Gow was one of Mrs Thatcher’s
    top aides and was Housing Minister during the
    peak years of right-to-buy.

    Other wealthy investors own scores of ex-
    council properties via offshore holding firms in
    tax havens in the Channel Islands, the GMB
    union has found.

    Boss Paul Kenny said: “You couldn’t make it up.
    The family of one of the Tory ministers who
    oversaw right-to-buy ends up owning swathes
    of ex-council homes.” ”

    And as you can see, a lot of them are avoiding tax as well, which is probably why the Tories won’t seal up tax avoidance loopholes.

    The plot, as they say, thickens…

  29. If it helps I’ll be willing to turn off Maggies life support to save a few pennys. We are all in this together.

  30. perhaps the people on the council estate sold their flats and moved out of london into the suburbs.somewhere like chafford hundred.

  31. rocket1 – But in doing so, they helped to over-inflate property prices so that’s not a valid argument. Also as a third of ex-council properties were bought up by people looking to make a buck at the expense of people who need social housing it is even less of a persuasive argument especially when it was a multi-millionaire Tory minister’s son – the same Tory minister, I may add, who was in charge of ‘right-to-buy’!

    But thank you for playing. You are the weakest link, goodbye!

  32. Your comment at 12.43pm – Good heat wrenching story – however she will not have her benefit cut as she has an overnight carer who stays some nights per week.

    Local Authorities have no idea if people have overnight carers and would send out letters to all people in overlarge properties. It would be up to the claimant to make their local authority aware.

  33. Your comment 2.17pm

    The Housing Benefit legislation allows for an additional bedroom for an overnight carer. The article you gave a link for indicates an overnight carer spends 3 nights per week looking after her son. Therefore the legislation allows her to have a 3 bedroom property. There shouldn’t be any debate as the criteria is clearly laid out in benefit legislation.

    I could give you links to the legislation – it changed on the 1st April 2012.

  34. Ed – The 2012 legislation may well have changed so giving me a link to that is pointless. Now if you can give me a link to the legislation that is coming in on April 1st 2013 and it backs up your assertion then I’ll gladly concede the point otherwise I stand by what has been published.

  35. Myles this is not a Tory government it is a coalition. If we had a Labour government they would still have to cut the same things no matter what rubbish they say…

    Also referring to your comment about growth, its obvious that the growth we experienced in the ‘boom years’ was not real growth at all. It was growth using credit and debt hence why when things went so wrong in 2008 we were hit so hard with no money put aside.

    You seem to have a slanted view on why we are in the situation we are in and are not being objective at all.

    House prices went up due to a huge population increase which increased demand and banks urging people to mortgage themselves up to th eyeballs, which was all supported by Blair and Brown. If banks were regulated property than they would not have been able to give mortgages away (especially buy to lets). The banking system was not managed effectively under the last government and credit and borrowing replaced saving all of which had an effect on property prices.

    As I have said before a country with little money cannot keep dishing it out, people need to aspire to want more, dig themselves out of the situation they are in if they rely on state help (other than pensioners, the disabled etc who I think should be given more assistance). Britain has become a stagnant, unaspiring place where people feel a strong sense of entitlement to state money as if its a birth right. My grandparents had zero state help and lived in a number of run down places in the East End but they worked extremely hard in a number of depressing jobs to make ends meet. They didn’t have more children than they could afford and they saved a little aside for a rainy day. They were realists, they didn’t moan about life being unfair they just got on with it. It is that attitude that we need people to have nowadays as it is that drive that will help dig us out of this mess.

    Another point to make is that right to buy was actually started by Callaghan

  36. Bernard87 – It is a Coalition in name only. The LibDems are swallowed up by the Tories and, as most of the policies come from Tory ministers with only token concessions to the LibDems, it’s pointless calling it anything but a Tory Government.

    Well, we’ve got no growth at all now, have we? And Cameron lied when he said the OBR supported his position that his austerity measures were not affecting growth.

    I have a social conscience which means that when the vulnerable are being attacked and victimised, I will fight in their corner. I am not personally affected by the changes so I have no personal bias either way… apart from that dictated to me by my conscience. Are you claiming that you and the other commenters do not have your own slanted view? It seems to me that most of the commenters have an extreme bias against benefit claimants. My only bias is to want fairness and equality of treatment for all citizens of the UK that doesn’t victimise any particular group.

    House prices went up before Labour and that is due to the property industry. Labour should have regulated the banks, I agree. Brown should have done his job much better than he did. I would point out though that, according to Ramesh Patel (a Tory journalist and economist), the deficit this Government inherited from Labour is actually smaller than the one Labour inherited from the previous Tory Government… and Labour still managed some growth. There is a link to Ramesh Patel’s article in an earlier comment I posted.

    As I have already commented on aspiration and the fixation you and the media have on choosing to focus on the tiny minority of cases that make the deserving claimants look bad, I refuse to engage in further discussion because I’m fed up of repeating myself. Don’t take this refusal as a victory on your part because it isn’t.

    Thatcher really pushed the ‘right-to-buy’ during her time and, as another of my postings pointed out, to the benefit of rich landlords, one of whom is the son of the minister in charge of overseeing the policy. I will concede a point to you over your assertion regarding Callaghan as you may possibly be right; however, as I remember Thatcher pushing it as if it was a new idea, that’s how I put it in my article and related comments.

  37. rocket1 – I will not discuss Labour’s immigration policy because that would open the door for racist and borderline racist comments.

    I have criticised Labour’s failings in the past and they had many but opening the door to people who will use the opportunity to insult and incite hatred towards immigrants is not something I’m prepared to do.

    I’d like to point out at this point that I’m not accusing any of my readers or commenters of anything but that there are people out there who may try to make trouble so I am erring on the side of caution.

    The real elephant in the room is the ignorance of Tory supporters who ignore the truth when it is shown to them in glaring Technicolored magnificence.

  38. Myles’ problem is that he thinks money should still be dished out. He doesn’t care how its accounted for but people should get it regardless. He blames the government for everything (as well as Margaret Thatcher) and seems to think that they are cutting benefits for a laugh. I just wish people like Myles were shouting ten years ago that if every aspect of peoples lives are subsidised by the state through the ‘good times’ ‘would it be able to be sustained when times got rough?

    Myles has ignored reasons why property prices exploded, blames ‘market forces’, dismisses immigration and is infatuated with the fact that MPs can have second homes payed for by the taxpayer so why shouldn’t everyone else (regardless of the fact that MPs pay 40% tax on their salaries and are therefore contributing more to the system than a low skilled, poorly paid worker). He mentions bad housing means poor health which is a good point….but not once does Myles say that we should all be responsible for our own lives and the choices we make in life.

  39. Bernard87 – Personally attacking me is a big mistake.

    The Government’s job is to protect all its citizens fairly and with equity not just a privileged few without harming any group of citizens. This Government fails to meet that simple requirement. In fact, this Government is persecuting the poor, the sick and the disabled for the pure ideological pleasure of seeing those who are least able to defend themselves and who people like you do not care about or be willing to defend suffer and die (the last figure I saw was 10,700 deaths due to welfare changes). This Government could set about collecting all the unpaid tax revenue from greedy individuals and companies who avoid paying millions in tax which would obviate the need for the unwarranted persecution of the legitimate, needy benefit claimants but they won’t because that would cause them and their rich friends some minor inconvenience and because they would have to admit to tax avoidance themselves.

    Ten years ago, I didn’t have the opportunity afforded to me by Mr Casey here at Your Thurrock to voice my opinions, I was in full-time employment and was not interested in politics so you can shove your comment up your big, fat Tory backside.

    I didn’t ignore the reasons behind the explosion in property prices; in fact, I covered the main points quite well including market forces which are a major contributory factor. If you cannot understand what I wrote, perhaps you can get someone to explain it to you.

    I didn’t dismiss the issue of immigration, I merely feel that I don’t want to discuss it in an open forum that can be read by people with extreme views. As I don’t want someone with such views to use my column to disseminate their reprehensible views, I decline to engage in the debate.

    If, however, you would like to discuss the matter in private via e-mail, feel free to contact me and we can discuss the immigration issue. Or do you require an audience?

    Most MPs earn more in a year than most people who actually work for a living and then have the temerity to expect the taxpayer to fund expenses that an ordinary worker would have to pay out of their meager wages, If MPs were only being paid reasonable living expenses, that would be fine but to expect an enormous wage AND a taxpayer-funded lifestyle is too much. Items claimed for include – toilet seats, gardening services, home repairs, travel, food, Council Tax and rent among other things. Most benefit claimants get barely enough to live on,

    It’s nice that you agree that bad housing causes bad health although that is little solace given your views about benefit claimants.

    I agree that people should take some responsibility for their lives and most genuinely needy claimants are within the restrictions of their health and/or disability; however, you have this naive assumption that all claimants have the mental, social and physical capacity to assume responsibility for their lives which is mot always the case. Neither is it always true that someone who has full capacity to assume responsibility can control what events occur to them that limit their ability to take control of their life.

    To take myself as an example – I was made redundant the week before Christmas in 2003 and I was not paid for that week’s work. I signed on but, taking responsibility for my life, I found and managed to get a job by sheer luck. I accepted the job for no other reason than wanting to provide for my family. I took the job because I was desperate and we were in financial distress if I didn’t. I had no choice in being made redundant and little choice in taking a job for which I had no experience. That job caused my already present mental health issue to worsen to the point that I had no choice but to leave. It also exacerbated my social phobia to the point that I became isolated and anti-social. After a few weeks rest, during which time I did not claim benefits, I signed on and tried to better my job prospects by taking courses at the adult college. I succeeded in the courses and became a volunteer there whilst getting the medical help I needed. I am still a governor at the adult college with an expertise in mental health. I have undertaken several other voluntary roles all on the hopes of improving my employability. Unfortunately, none of my efforts have borne fruit, despite having gone on interviews, because I have no choice bit to inform prospective employers of my mental health issue; no choice because in helping others in a similar situation, my mental health issue is well known. I took responsibility for my life within the limitations dictated by events and I know others like me – many others.

    How dare you judge people without learning about their lives and the events that put them where they are.

    How dare you tar genuinely needy claimants with the same brush based on biased journalism that highlights the minority and holds them up to be the rule rather than the exception.

  40. Ed – As I can’t open PDF documents on my mobile, I will provisionally concede the point; however, I will check the document as soon as I can and will continue to watch after April 1st to see the inevitable hidden change that screws the poor woman or not as the case may be.

  41. Myles I wasn’t personally attacking you at all but i’m entitled to air my opinion on the matter which is clearly different to your own thoughts.

    I am not a ‘vile human being’ because I disagree with you and I am not judging anybody. I see things as they are. Yes, I would like them to stop giving MPs a shopping allowance as I do not see why they need it and I am not a fan of ‘second homes’ either but even by scrapping those two perks it would not make a dent in the welfare budget. The majority of people do not claim benefits unless they are going through hard times and need the help so therefore by cutting the welfare budget to more manageable proportions the government are looking after the majority of the population. Personally I dislike a number of things that this government are doing but I am right behind them on cutting this budget. Those that can help themselves will have no choice but to do so and those that cannot should be given more help. What does worry me is I do not want to hear stories as you have said about disabled/genuinely sick people being made to work when they should not be….I definately agree with you there.

    We’ll have to just agree to disagree on the matter.

  42. Back to the bedroom tax. Having worked with a number of social housing providers, I can honestly say that most are refusing to entertain the eviction of disabled people because of potential rent arrears due to over occupation. It’s a fact that most councils don’t have the suitable properties to re- house most over occupied tenants because social housing was meant for the most needy, i.e. families and other vulnerable groups such as less able people. They didn’t build many one bedroom places because they weren’t catering for single people or couples without children. Most social landlords also concede that if they have to prove resonableness in a court for eviction over arrears, they’re going to look pretty stupid if they turn round and say they have offered no alternative.

    Currently this is not a workable policy because social landlords can’t make an offer of alternative accommodation other than the private sector, which would be stripping a tenants rights to the original tenancy agreement they signed with the social landlord. I don’t see a court enforcing an eviction order until the council has made sufficient other provision for their tenant.

    The government are already having to ask the supreme court for judicial review over cases of disabled children being made to share rooms.

    The idea in principle is sound. Free up larger houses for families because social housing is in short supply and the needs of families is greater than the needs of a tenant that is under occupying a property. In practicality it’s more difficult because they haven’t got anywhere suitable to offer those tenants that would be moved.

    Social housing isn’t a lottery where the lucky ticket holder get’s to keep a house for life. That may have been true of the post war era but it’s not reality any more. The private rented sector needs to be regulated to a degree so that it is made more affordable and provides people with more stability for a longer period of time than a 6 month tenancy. The government also needs to go further in freeing councils to build more social housing but ensure that future tenures are let on a fixed term basis and make it clear to people that their circumstances will be re-assessed at regular intervals to ensure that the right people are being supported.

    The immigration argument on this has been won with regard to market forces. The left have conceded they were wrong all along and the label of racism levelled against anyone that has argued in favour of immigration control in the past should be removed. If the left now use it to brow beat people into submission by trying to pretend that the only reason people talk about immigration is because they are racist, then they are clearly using it to divide people and maintain the them and us class and racial war they need to validate their arguments and maintain that these people are victims of society and not their own life decisions.

    The left and the Labour party have now admitted their vindictive policy against the working class people in this country was wrong. Vindictive because the working class needed to be punished for voting for Thatcher and keeping the Labour party out of power for 18 years. The battle now is to make sure that the low wage culture created by the left and the labour party through mass immigration is ended and the standard of living improved for those on low wages so they can afford to support themselves. A whole generation have been robbed of the chance of owning their own home because of the supply and demand inequality created by mass immigration.

    It’s interesting to note that both unemployment and economic inactivity under the 13 years of a Labour government were lower when they came to power than they were when they left. Around 700,000 more people between the ages of 16 and 64 no longer worked or were entitled to unemployment benefit. This figure has dropped by around 300,000 since the coalition government came to power. Some would say proof that the current government is getting people back to work. Others will claim this is due to the current government being nasty and evil forcing people off benefits and back to work. Those in favour of benefit dependency will argue the latter is the truth.

  43. Bernard87 – You stated that: “Myles’ problem is that he thinks money should still be dished out. He doesn’t care how its accounted for but people should get it regardless.”

    I take that as a personal attack on me because I don’t think money should be “dished out” but I believe that assistance should ne given to those in genuine need; the term “dished out” implies the recipients are undeserving. You said that I don’t care how it’s accounted for and that is misrepresenting my view and, by implication, me. I made it quite clear that most claimants are deserving cases and I also made quite clear that those who are undeserving and merely playing the system should get what’s coming to them. I made it clear that deserving claimants are being tarred with the same brush as the undeserving who receive the greatest media attention. I also made it clear that the money for the benefit bill could be covered if the Government collected all the tax that is being unpaid by those who avoid it. All those things being made clear that I do care about how the money is both raised and spent, something you say I don’t. A personal slight against me as an individual.

    I didn’t call you a vile human being for disagreeing with me, disagree away, it’s a free country (for the moment, that is). I so called you that because you have judged people. You talk about claimants as though they are all undeserving of assistance and do nothing to try to take responsibility for their lives when, in fact, most do within the restrictions imposed upon them by circumstances or health issues. You talk about claimants as though the highly publicised scroungers are the rule rather than the exception, all of which are judgements you make without any real evidence.

    You say you see things as they are, an erroneous statement when you ignore the deaths and suffering caused within the disadvantaged community and the persecution of that community whilst the rich are given huge tax breaks and are allowed to avoid tax. I see both sides of the situation but still believe that those with the broadest shoulders and deepest pockets have a moral and social duty to protect the vulnerable. All you seem to see is the selfish Tory view.

    I didn’t say that scrapping of MP perks would solve the situation but it wouldn’t hurt, would it?

    I would like to see a more manageable welfare bill but whilst the Tories are flooding the job market with slave labour which is forcing paid workers out of employment and onto benefits, whilst there is no proper Living Wage, no economic growth and whilst Remploy factories are being closed putting disabled people who were getting training, an income and contributing to the economy back onto benefits, the welfare bill will increase.

    The Remploy employees were taking responsibility for their lives and their own up-keep, something you are so keen on, and they had that all taken away from them by this Government against their wills and completely out of their control.

    You are right behind the Government on cutting the budget because you are not being targeted; if you were, you’d be screaming at the top of your lungs in protest – just like you said I should have done ten years ago.

    The problem is that the benefit claimants being targeted by the Government aren’t the ones who are the problem; it’s the group of people claiming JobSeekers Allowance that contains the most fraudulent claims and those playing the system and that group is not being touched by thethe welfare bill will increase.

    The Remploy employees were taking resping the system, just that that is where most of the fraudulent claims and system users are.

    I would like to say that I am not against benefit claimants being encouraged to undertake voluntary work as it can improve job prospects (supposedly, although it hasn’t really worked in my case), improves self-esteem and mental health, allows an individual to feel useful and contribute to society in some way but forced ‘voluntary’ work or workfare is valueless to the individual as they will not put their heart into the work. It’s a bit off topic but shows my attitude to fair-minded treatment of benefit claimants.

    Yes, we will have to agree to disagree because, until you see the opposing view as clearly as you see the Tory view, I’m wasting my breath with you.

  44. NoVoice – I agree with most of what you said but I take exception to the implication that I believe that anyone discussing immigration is inherently being racist, that is not the case at all. I am simply erring on the side of caution with regards to that issue because I would rather focus on the unfairness in the treatment of people on Housing Benefit and the sick and disabled.

    I’d also like to point out that the jobs that have been created by this Government have mostly been part-time jobs that may have got people off of JSA. but have just increased the claims for other benefits to top up the low pay.

  45. 9.59pm – the guidance has existed to allow an extra bedroom since Court of Appeal judgment: Burnip, Trengove and Gorry.

    What I can’t find is the other Government briefing note when the Government appealed this decision that stated Local Authorities were to suspend and not pay the additional Housing Benefit a until a decision was made on appeal this December.

    As David Cameron has now said families with disabled children requiring an extra bedroom will be exempt will he drop the Government’s appeal against Court of Appeal judgment: Burnip, Trengove and Gorry? And will they now amend the legislation to local authorities?

  46. Myles I have been watching you battle these Tory bloggers over the last two days and you have my full sympathies. There is an old saying “There’s none so blind As those that will not see.” I think that the proof will be in the pudding Myles. This shows when Westminster Council placed it’s cap on private rented accommodation in that area has a four star hotel opposite Chelsea Harbour now full up with folk that were previously privately renting whilst in receipt of housing benefit and who now reside in the said four star hotel courtesy of Westminster Council. I would suggest that people unfortunate enough to be caught up in the bedroom tax fiasco should make themselves eligible by not paying the bedroom tax and then force Thurrock Council to put them up in a similar arrangement for which the Governmenthas made no provision. Let’s see how long this fiasco continues after that.

  47. Here’s some ‘bedroom tax’ statistics:

    666,000 will be affected

    Social Housing tenants will lose on average £728 a year

    Housing Association tenants will lose on average £832 a year

    95,000 people will not be able to afford the changes

    Two-thirds of those affected are disabled households

    25% of those affected are single parent families

  48. If tenants refuse to pay their rent and then get evicted for rent arrears then local authorities can claim that person is intentionally homeless. Local Authorities could temporarily house them for a maximum of 28 days if they meet all the other criteria for being homeless then after that they have no obligation to house them.

    If the person has children they should be passed onto social services to see if they can help them with such things as deposits etc.

  49. Ed out of individual benefit money which lets have it right ain’t worth a cup of cold piss For someone to take an additional 10 or 15 quid out of it it ain’t a question of refusing to pay it it is more of a question of have to pay it or not eat or not have the heating on in your house on a cold evening like tonight.
    So if these people are in this position I would say to them go along to the social or as I like to call it the SS and let them means test them and after the geniuses up there come to the same conclusion as everyone else these people who are on a very tight budget and where are they gonna pull an extra 10-15 quid a week from? Hardly what I would call making yourself destitute Ed is it?

    The person who should be answering questions on here and should be talking for up for herself is Jackie Doyle Price. I am sure her sidekick Igor would come up with some old clap trap to justify this and very importantly these people she and the Tories have thrown away like some old used tissues are some of the marginal voters that voted for her and put her in Westminster and have now been. Mugged by her and her party.Lets hope they won’t be so inclined to be mugged by her at the next general election .Roll on May 2015 or hopefully before

  50. With the scrapping of council tax benefit and being replaced by LCTS you have to add the 25% council tax that the unemployed are now expected to pay. Meaning some unemployed will spend 25% to 30% of their monthly income on rent and council tax.

  51. Will anything change in 2015? Have Labour made a manifesto commitment to scrap any of the social security reforms?

    Bedroom Tax? LCTS? PIP? Universal Credit? ESA? Scrapping of Incapacity Benefit? Crisis loans/Budgeting loans?

    Or will they keep the status quo?

  52. It’s not an ideal situation but some of those affected might want to consider just not paying the part of the rent that won’t be covered by HB. The percentages lost are 14% and 25% for additional 1 and 2 bedrooms unoccupied. Even the most brazen social landlords would not even think of going for eviction before the 8 week rule kicks in. That gives a person under occupying by one bedroom 57 weeks before the council would probably consider action on arrears. 32 weeks for a person under occupying by 2 bedrooms. Maybe things would be sorted in a more sensible fashion by then. Let us not forget that those in private rented housing are already being hit by these rules so this does seem to be the left making an ideological point to some extent that people should be entitled to everything given by the state forever.

    Let us also not forget that the low wage culture and part time jobs were a result of the Labour party’s mass immigration policy. Pure and simple market economics. They have created the poverty of low pay and part time work which traps people on benefits. Welfare doesn’t work. That is proven by the fact that welfare spending has increased by £65 billion in 14 years or 125%. That doesn’t include pensions. So those Labour supporters whingeing about the Tories should think about the fact that it was their party that has created the benefits trap and poverty that we now see. Imagine what that £65 billion could have done for the people of this country in real need.

    We currently have 9.3 million people of working age not working. We have millions more contributing nothing to this country because they claim benefits that outstrip any tax they may pay. We have around 24 million working age people that are net contributors in terms of income tax and national insurance. There are also the companies that employ those people and pay tax on their profits. The left’s and Labour’s answer to the ever increasing burden of public spending is to tax those that contribute more to pay for the rest. In their view this is apparently fair.

    They supported the poverty creation and now they support taking other people’s income to pay for it. Seemingly devoid of the of the obvious consequence of an ever increasing state burden on those that prop up our government, they call for more taxation until the last person that is contributing is gone.

    Personally if I was Cameron I would spend like there is no tomorrow. Bankrupt the country over the next two years. Leave a note, as Labour did when they lost the election after collapsing the economy, saying “you sort it out”. Collapse of the welfare state. Massive cuts to the health service. Forced repatriation of foreign workers. Something to look forward to I think. If you think you’re going to borrow your way out of this think again. Italy has been downgraded again. France is on the verge of another downgrade. The US is bankrupt because of the same issues. Do the Labour supporters seriously think the banks are going to be in the mood to lend to another bankrupt country.

  53. Bankrupt the country the banks have all ready done that at everybody’s expense and have been helped out by DC and to add insult to injury have given their selves large bonuses but that’s alright let the least able placed people take up the bill that’s the Tory way, your talking about saving money how about 52 million for a botched up Rail tender involving Virgin Rail, Jeremy Hunt bang to rights interfering with tenders involving millions of pounds, The latest get your wife to lie and take your speeding points at a cost to the Tax payer In excess of 100 thousand pounds these are a few examples on how to save money in this corrupt Government furthermore you don’t mention the million upon millions who find their self on benefit through no thought of their own and the fact that it was reported 1700 people chasing one job in Starbucks so it isn’t that there are jobs on every corner like the Government would suggest, so lets do things the Tory way and be gentleman While these people are on the floor kick them when there down then bring out you propaganda and try and convince every one there benefit cheats, when Fact. less the 1 percent is fraudulent regardless who made this situation the last labour Government or this elected Tory Government it certainly wasn’t the fault of low income families that have no say in the situation how do you justify that

  54. “take that as a personal attack on me because I don’t think money should be “dished out” but I believe that assistance should ne given to those in genuine need; the term “dished out” implies the recipients are undeserving”

    It wasn’t a personal attack on you but in many of your previous posts there was little detail of how to actually cut the budget. You are very clear on why welfare should not be cut (for a large part) but little about how we could cut the welfare bill without hurting the disadvantaged. The budget is unsustainable whether we like it or not and I don’t think it matters who is in government as Labour would have no choice but to cut the welfare bill as well. I certainly do not think that all welfare claimants are undeserving and I don’t think that many people think that at all. You are assuming I think that because I do not agree with your view nor do you know if I or any of my family have been or are recipients of any benefits.

    “I also made quite clear that those who are undeserving and merely playing the system should get what’s coming to them. I made it clear that deserving claimants are being tarred with the same brush as the undeserving who receive the greatest media attention”

    I agree with you there. In general the media does tend to focus on the fraudulent claims which was why is an earlier post I did say that I was worried that certain people may be deemed fit to work and therefore lose their benefit which would hamper their health and cost more from the state in the long run. Here’s hoping that the government use common sense to make sure that only those who can go back to work do so. For others voluntary community work is just as good in my books and that person is still earning their benefit as well as benefitting their community.

    “I also made it clear that the money for the benefit bill could be covered if the Government collected all the tax that is being unpaid by those who avoid it”

    I agree tax avoidance is a major issue, but I’m sceptical about the speed this will take to sort out. Tax avoidance has always been with us and no matter how many loopholes you close down companies and lawyers will open up new ones. Many companies can avoid paying large sums of tax in the UK by placing their HQ somewhere else in the EU. Mr Brown must have known this to be the case but still left these loopholes open while he was chancellor and later PM. I am glad that now the public know about the severity of the issue it is this government who will have to make some headway to tackle the issue. But as I said I think this will take a very long time. It’s a catch 22 situation. If the government comes down too hard on wealthy individuals then we will have none of “those with the broadest shoulders and deepest pockets”. The less wealthy people we have in the UK the more tax we all pay to make up for the shortfall. This is the reason why I feel all politicians are reluctant to seriously tackle tax avoidance. They worry that without private or corporate wealth no jobs will be generated, unless by the state, be them part-time or full time roles. If tax avoidance could be stopped quickly (and I don’t think it can) then I would not want to then see that extra revenue propping up a bloated welfare bill. I would want to see that money going back into the economy. I would want to see a small part of that money go to increasing pensions and elderly benefits and another chunk into the NHS.

    “I didn’t call you a vile human being for disagreeing with me, disagree away, it’s a free country (for the moment, that is). I so called you that because you have judged people…….all of which are judgements you make without any real evidence”

    I don’t think you are qualified to attack me for a view or judging people (even though I did say I am not judging anybody). As I have said in earlier posts I do not think that some people do take responsibility for their lives. To be honest I don’t blame the individual people as it is a culture that has grown to be acceptable. People, be them rich or poor, now seek to blame others for their situation which will not help dig us out of this mess we are in.

    “I see both sides of the situation”

    I don’t think you do at all. You see a one sided view (the opposite to my one sided view you may say). You see a side that is determined by your own situation, your politics, your judgements and instincts etc. Likewise I take a different view and by no means do I think that my view is right but it is the best way I can think of dealing with the issue realistically and without waiting for a whole plethora of tax avoidance laws to come into play or raising taxes for everyone. I think it’s hard to be objective when discussing topics like this and you are naturally pulled one way or another. My right wing instincts pull me in favour for these cuts whereas your more centrist/left leaning views pull you in the opposite direction.

    “I didn’t say that scrapping of MP perks would solve the situation but it wouldn’t hurt, would it?”

    Your earlier posts did show a kind of infatuation with MPs perks. What I got from that was if MPs are allowed to claim for nonsense why should people be allowed to continue to receive benefits. This may not be what you meant at all but it came across that way to me. Although as I said I do agree that the expenses system for MPs should suffer cuts in the same way the welfare budget has to now. It is my understanding that the system now is much more rigorous than before the scandal broke? I may be wrong.

    “I would like to see a more manageable welfare bill”

    Cutting the benefits for the small amount of fraudulent claimants (you said that most people claiming benefits are honest) would not even make a stone chip sized dent into making the budget more manageable. Sadly many of those people who are on low wages will also have to suffer. But as I said earlier if you are relying on anybody, be that the state or otherwise, for money you cannot expect the conditions to stay the same for ever more. It’s the downside of the state subsidising people long term. When there are times when it becomes unaffordable those people suffer the most. Again the root of this heavy use of subsidy lies with the Labour party, not the Tories. Politically I can understand why Labour subsidised a large chunk of people. 1) It kept people voting for them and 2) They were too scared to introduce a proper living wage earlier as they did not know how employers would take it. It’s an understandable situation to take as they did not want companies to start pulling out of the UK and taking their jobs with them. To give Labour credit they introduced the minimum wage in the first place. Something the Tories opposed at the time, much to their discredit.

    “whilst the Tories are flooding the job market with slave labour which is forcing paid workers out of employment and onto benefits”

    I don’t know if this is true or not so I won’t comment on that but I do know that Ed Milliband, while accepting that immigration was too high under Labour, he did say that it drove wages down and significantly increased competition in low skilled jobs.

    “whilst there is no proper Living Wage, no economic growth and whilst Remploy factories are being closed putting disabled people who were getting training, an income and contributing to the economy back onto benefits, the welfare bill will increase”


    “The Remploy employees were taking responsibility for their lives and their own up-keep, something you are so keen on, and they had that all taken away from them by this Government against their wills and completely out of their control.”

    The people who work in these factories are exactly the type of people I like by the sounds of it. I don’t know anything about Remploy but it sounds like the type of thing the government should be actively supporting not cutting.

    “I would like to say that I am not against benefit claimants being encouraged to undertake voluntary work as it can improve job prospects (supposedly, although it hasn’t really worked in my case), improves self-esteem and mental health, allows an individual to feel useful and contribute to society in some way”

    Wholeheartedly agree.

    “forced ‘voluntary’ work or workfare is valueless to the individual as they will not put their heart into the work”

    Again I agree with you on this. I have thought it would be better to pay the person to work somewhere rather than forcing them. Not only will they want to get up in the morning but they may enjoy what they are doing more which could possibly lead to a full time role if that’s what the worker wanted. I do agree with the voluntary side if a graduate wants to be a pharmacist and they get placed in a Boots on a voluntary basis as they can gain valuable experience within their chosen field which in many professions, experience is better than money in the early stages. But placing A grade science graduates in Poundland is asking for trouble. Although I will say that Poundland is still a respectable place to work.

    As a final thought. As a columnist you are opening the door for criticism, debate, argument and sometimes attack. While I commend the fact that you reply back to most comments it is hugely unprofessional to reply to me how you did. You make a very good contribution to this site and I for one like reading your postings but hope that I will not have to take such language from you again and will put this down to me hitting a raw nerve with what you saw as my sour tone of comment.

  55. “regardless who made this situation the last labour Government or this elected Tory Government it certainly wasn’t the fault of low income families”

    This is true Hot Press. Labour used and abused this group as I said in my above comment and the coalition are making things just as tough. Myles, NoVoice, myself and quite a few others have all said that we need a living wage which makes employers pay people a decent wage. The problem is that there is no need for employers to sign up to this as there are too many people in the UK looking for work, largely thanks to immigration. There is too much competition at the lower end of the scale such as shop work, taxi driving, lorry driving etc and until low skilled migrants start returning to their homeland easing pressure on the jobs market here, very few private employers will sign up to a living wage scheme.

    Also it is impossible for a bank to bankrupt a country. Governments do that but a bank cannot.

  56. Hot press I never mentioned fraudulent benefit claims but since we are here, I could name half a dozen people off the top of my head that don’t work because it isn’t worth their while. Their words not mine. One is a family member. Take another read and you will see that what I said was that Labour was responsible for creating the benefits poverty trap millions of people now find themselves in. Not only did they do this to the people they claim to represent the most, they also invited millions of others from around the world to join the ever increasing numbers that are supposed to be supported by less than half the population through taxation. The working class will pay for the treachery of supporting Thatcher and putting the Labour party out of power for 18 years. Now the Labour party can rely on their millions of other supporters from around the world to support them, they don’t need the working class any more.

    As for the banks, change the record. Do you seriously think Brown et al would have passed up the chance to have the banks by the short and curly’s if they thought for one moment the banks were really to blame for all that happened and the politicians in charge at the time had nothing to do with it. The reason they were bailed out and nothing said or done is because they would have exposed the politicians that were complicit in the mad cap lending to prop up the housing markets here, in Europe and in the US. The other part of the equation is countries believing that they could expand welfare to cure all the ills of the great unwashed when in reality they all knew it was going to crash. Hence unsupportable structural debts all over the western economy.

    So bankrupt banks plus bankrupt countries. The next people to turn on are those that actually pay and contribute financially to the running of a country, including banks, businesses large and small and individuals. You are so enveloped in socialist thinking that you are unable to see the reality before your eyes.

    In the end we will all pay for Labour’s policies of unfunded public expenditure to con the masses into believing they were doing the best for them. Our children will pay because they will never be able to afford their own home, once again through simple economics of supply and demand. Your party conned you all into believing the lie of mass immigration and never ending state support. The socialist ideal. And once again it’s now brought the world crashing down in flames. As someone else has already asked, where are their answers to the catastrophe they created.

  57. There is an informational picture floating about on the web telling people that having a spare room that is classed as a boxroom will not incur the ‘bedroom tax’; however. information that has been distributed via a Facebook group casts doubt on that claim.

    Although I have not had the chance to verify this information, I am posting the full claim here so that any interested reader can look up the relevant legislation to verify it themselves. This in no way assigns any bias to myself or this site but is purely meant as information for people to use for verification purposes as I am unable to do so on your behalf at the present time.

    Please note that all typographical, grammatical and punctuational errors in the following quoted section are copied directly from the original piece.

    ” just to let you know this myth is busted
    if you go and read the act,
    there is no mention of “box room” anywhere in
    and if a room is between 50sq ft and 70sq ft
    then it is big enough to be used as a bedroom
    for a child under the age of 10, after 10 you
    would be classed as overcrouded,
    but it is still classed as a bedroom and still
    subject to the under occupation rules… so you
    would still have to pay!
    the original picture needs to be nuked
    less than 50sq ft then it is not big enough to be
    used as a bedroom
    “the housing act cannot be changed by law” lol
    it can be changed by the government though
    and they can change laws too you know!
    the act has been changed quite a few times
    since 85
    google housing act and see what comes up
    i am sure they even have a version which uses
    metric measurements now
    it seems it was made to fool people into thinking
    they will not have to pay the extra towards rent,
    and to make them less likely to join in any

    Again – this is an UNVERIFIED claim and reproduced here for readers to verify for themselves as I cannot do so myself at the present time due to blurry vision making it hard to read great swaths of text.

    Please accept this posting in the manner in which I have posted it as I am in no fit state today to enter into any protracted debates or arguments about this.

    Thank you in advance for those who care to cooperate with my wishes. And if anyone does verify (or not) this claim (after having carried out the necessary research, of course), could you please post your findings here? Thank you again.

  58. Just a quick note to people who have made comments I need to reply to:

    I will respond to your postings as soon as I can but, due to the concussion I received last week, the lack of any real amount of recuperation time due to meetings, appointments, writing this piece and responding to comments and the side effects of my medication which causes blurry vision anyway, I am unable to concentrate on (or, in some cases, even read comments properly in order to give a proper response. I have just about been able to type my last posting and this one through touch-typing and use of the Force.

    Thank you for your attention and your patience.

  59. Also if anybody wants to find out about the “bedroom tax”, search Inside Housing or the National Housing Federation. There’s loads of links and updates on both sites.

  60. rocket1 – I do apologise. I thought you were posting a bizarre non-sequitur. I can truthfully say that I am not the Thurrock Heckler and was unaware of the blog until you posted the link above.

    Thank you for pointing the blog out to me and for proving that I’m not the only one who feels that way.

  61. I think the least IDS can do is to put in some transitional measures before he is forced to concede defeat on this one.

  62. Imagine my wife and I (homeowners with two kids) decided that we wanted a fourth bedroom. Then suppose that I came round to you all – or the taxpayers at least – and asked for a contribution towards the £15k I needed to either extend into the loft, or move to a larger property. Suppose then that I also asked for ongoing help with the additional council tax. I’m pretty sure I’d be politely told to “jog-on”

    We need to understand that those on benefits (of whatever type) should have to make the same considerations as the rest of us – to my mind this means considering the type of property you live in, the location of that property, the number of kids you have, etc. etc.

    It seems that there is not sufficient social housing for those that need it. If this is the case, then those at the sharp end (that are complaining about this policy) should rejoice. I’d personally deal with it by having fixed term tenancies (5 years) and an automatic review following a change in circumstances – i.e. a child leaving home.

    Lastly, and you’ll like this; why should it be the State’s responsibility to house anyone? There are alternatives. We need an honest debate in this country about what we expect from our relationship with the State.

  63. Dear con ,
    I totally don’t understand your point of view for somebody that’s living in a council house which they’ve been allocated by the council for the amount of people that are living there at the exact time why would they ask for an extension? The only time they end up with more rooms they need is when people pass away , move out or the family breaks up. So your example of wanting to build an extension doesn’t really hold water? Theses people aren’t asking to build an extension or asking for more bedrooms its what they were allocated when they moved in to their council house. If the government or the council are no longer building houses and in the past sold of council house stock this is one if the major factors in house prices today why they are so High, in England today. If you suppose that private landlords are earning terrific amount of money why don’t the government and local councils build houses which would bring the price of houses down, if you’ve got an housing surplus then house prices will come down water finds its own level and as to your point should we expect the government to build houses I think your find after the Second World War it become apparent private landlord accommodation was of substandard quality and had to be regularised. So I think it was better to build council housing

  64. Dear Hot Press,

    The point I was making is that it’s not right for everyone else to subsidise the additional capacity, particularly when that capacity might be more effiiently used by asking the incumbent tenants to move out. I’d probably go further and insist that those who are under-occupying be forced to move out. As I sad, I’d do this via short-term tenancies. This is becasue, as you rightly point out, the allocation was made based upn their circumstances at a particular pint in time.

    Every single other benefit is ‘adaptive’ in the sense that it changes along with your circumstances; social housing shouldn’t be any different. Social housing tenants need to understnad that the house they’re allocated isn’t theirs. Any more than a house in the private sector (typically on 6 month or 1 year rolling contracts) belongs to the person renting that.

    I’ll say it again. Why should the government be responsible for housing anyone but the most vulnerable? Even in those circumstances, councils houses aren’t necessarily the answer.

  65. Well rocket, not sure I would go quite that far BUT I agree whole heartedly that unoccupied social housing should be looked at. I am not a council tenant pay a huge rent and we struggle every month to pay our rent and bills. I have 2 council houses ajoining ours. One is a couple of persons who apparently are too ill to work but drink to excess (and smoke), drag their ill behaved children up and often keep us awake to all hours fighting and carrying. My alarm goes off at 5.30am and there are many times thanks to this persons that I have had only a few hours sleep. The other house is an unmarried mother taking a 3 bedroom house who is pretending her grown up children are living with. She is actually living with a man in another residence, turns up a few days per week to make it look as though she is living, whilst sub letting to her spoilt and ill behaved 18 year daughter who comes there at the weekend to party and YES to keep us awake. There are alot more like this and it makes me sick that they are allowed to live off the tax payer and laught at us. I speak to my colleagues at work and many of them are in the same boat and sick of people living off the state (us the taxpayers). Time for a change…..

  66. It was not until 1885, when a Royal Commission was held, that the state took an interest. This led to the Housing of the Working Classes Act 1890, which encouraged local authorities to improve the housing in their areas. As a consequence the London County Council opened the Boundary Estate in 1900, and many localmen councils began building flats and houses in the early twentieth century. The First World War indirectly provided a new impetus, when the poor physical health and condition of many urban recruits to the army was noted with alarm. This led to a campaign known as Homes fit for heroes and in 1919 the Government first required councils to provide housing, helping them to do so through the provision of subsidies, under the Housing Act 1919

    During the Second World War almost four million British homes were destroyed or damaged, and afterwards there was a major boom in council house construction.[8] The bomb damage of the Second World War only worsened the condition of Britain’s housing stock, which was in poor condition before the outbreak of war. Before the war many social housing projects, such as the Quarry Hill Flats were built. However the bomb damage meant that much greater progress had to be made with slum clearance projects. In cities like London, Coventry and Kingston upon Hull, which received particularly heavy bombing, the redevelopment schemes were often larger and more radical.
    In the immediate post-war years, and well into the 1950s, council house provision was shaped by the New Towns Act 1946 and the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 of the 1945–51 Labour government. At the same time this government introduced housing legislation that removed explicit references to housing for the working class and introduced the concept of “general needs” construction (i.e., that council housing should aim to fill needs for a wide range of society). In particular, Aneurin Bevan, the Minister for Health and Housing, promoted a vision of new estates where “the working man, the doctor and the clergyman will live in close proximity to each other”.

  67. I am still too busy to respond to the comments directed to me at the moment but I saw this and thought it may give you something to debate while I’m away.

    As you know, families with members of the armed forces are supposed to be exempt from the ‘bedroom tax’, however, as this story from a Facebook group I follow demonstrates, it is not necessarily cut-and-dried:

    ” Just when I thought I had escaped the BT
    because my sons are away in the forces. I
    contacted my council housing benefit section
    today, only to be told that i can not have it all
    ways, and even though they have not received
    the new guide lines from the government they
    would see it as when my sons are home on
    leave that they are living here, also if the
    government are saying that the spare rooms are
    being used for my sons then they would have to
    go on my claim and i would be charged council
    tax and non defendant, and i can not have it all
    ways, so therefore I am worse off with the
    exemption, like the government have not known
    this brick wall would be in the way, and now
    they will blame the local authority and the
    blame is off them”

    This story is reproduced verbatim. The location of the person telling the story is not given.

  68. If a room is left empty by someone on active military duty it will not be counted as spare and the non-dependant deduction will not apply when they are not living there. This concession was announced on 12 March 2013.

    If a claimant has non dependant living in the property then the normal non dependant deductions from their benefit will apply depending on the non deps gross earnings.

    Council Tax Benefit is being scraped on the 31st March 2013 and replaced by a Local Council Tax Support scheme. For LCTS purposes a non dep deduction will be taken while the non dep serviceman is on active duty as the property will be classed as the man residence and the exemption from non dep deductions announced by the Government apply to Housing Benefit only and not LCTS schemes..

  69. It’s only proper that those in the armed forces are excluded; however, I find little to disagree with in the council’s approach in this instance.

    Any reference to Bevin is slightly disingenuous as the Welfare State is now so divorced from his original intention as to make any comparison laughable.

  70. “Any reference to Bevin is slightly disingenuous as the Welfare State is now so divorced from his original intention as to make any comparison laughable”

    Very true. He never thought that his system would be abused so badly by the world and his dog or that people would be living off the State for ever more.

  71. I just saw this on the This Morning Facebook page. It is reproduced verbatim.

    “The subject of the so called ‘bedroom tax’ is
    making headlines again. Government snoopers
    reportedly could be deployed to check married
    couples are not dodging the tax. Husbands and
    wives who have a spare room will have their
    housing benefit slashed but people who are
    separated and live together will not. What do
    you think of potentially being under
    surveillance? What are you views on the
    Government’s bedroom tax? Let us know.”

  72. He never thought that his system would be abused

    Bernard how would you know what Bevin thought

    Have you got a phone line to god who lets you know what Bevin thinks

  73. What really offends me about the whole issue of bedroom tax is the way that it’s been done for example when people took tendency of their council homes this tax was not obviously in place rather like purchasing a private house and then the former owner telling you that if you’re not using all the bedrooms he wants to receive more money from yourself for the privilege I could accept and I think it would have been a lot better for the government if this tax was introduced solely on the basis of new or first-time council tenants and who took the tendency firstly being aware of the tax and if any member of the family moved out of the premises they would be liable for this additional tax I think in this way it would have took quite a lot of the resentment towards this out of the equation because I feel the government doesn’t understand or want to understand that when people who live on benefits sort out their monthly budget and this is already very meagre to burden them with even more expense is just unacceptable

  74. The subject of people fraudulently claiming benefits cropped up earlier and so did the subject of people who rent out properties in the private sector; below is a link to a Daily Mail article that represents the crossing of the two circles of a Venn diagram based on those subjects.

    It just goes to show that it’s not the genuinely needy who play the system and it’s not necessarily the work-shy scrounger types either but some fraud is down to greedy rich people.

  75. rocket1 you just can’t bring yourself to call it what everybody else knows it is bedroom tax if you’re ashamed of that fact and so you should be at least have the decency to call it what it is be honest with yourself I think it’s the best thing the Tory government have done a real vote winner something to get the people on your side keep up the good work who ever thought this one up deserves a medal you just couldn’t make this up a complete and utter bovine idiot whoever it was I wonder how long it will be for the U-turn on this little gem

  76. So to be fair rocket will the people who are in overcrowded accommodation get their allowance put up in line with the increase or will the government bend over backwards sorry Tory government bend over forwards to accommodate them I think not and that is where it all falls down as usual this policy is just another way to grind people underprivileged people down I’m glad you’re so proud of this policy that you have tried to defend on this page I have no need to offend you on this site I think you offend everything that is good and fair the same as this government especially IDS or idiot dumb slob as is become known for good reason

  77. It is up to a Local Authority to define a bedroom – a tenant can get there tape measure out and claim their other bedroom is in fact a box room but the Housing Act 1985 doesn’t over rule Housing Benefit legislation.

    The tenant would have to take the matter to the Appeal Tribunal or to Judicial Review.

    Local Authorities could of course argue why a tenant has 2 bedrooms on their tenancy agreement or are being charged rent for a 2 bedroom property if they are now claiming they only live in a 1 bedroom property – why is the landlord charging a rent for a 2 bedroom property and claiming ts a 2 bedroom property on the tenancy agreement?

    The sting in the tail is if a tenant successfully wins an appeal against the bedroom tax – tucked away in benefit legislation is a rule that allows benefit departments to restrict rent for expensive properties so they could reduce the rent in social housing from the social housing rent for a 2 bedroom property to the social rent for a 1 bedroom property.

    Of course the Government could re write the rules where a person is specified a number of rooms – not bedroom – so if they claim to have 2 living rooms and 1 bedroom instead of 2 bedrooms and 1 living room their rent will be restricted for having more rooms than they need.

    The Government have opened a whole cans of worms and I foresee benefit departments struggling under the weight of appeals and preparing paperwork for tribunals for months if not years to come.

  78. Ed (March 12, 1:22am) – If someone cannot afford to pay their rent due to lack of money then, as a measure of civil disobedience, they should refuse if it is a matter of choosing to feed themselves or pay rent. They cannot be considered as making themselves intentionally homeless as they are merely doing what they need to to survive.

    It would be a heartless Government that would take people to court over something like this or make them homeless; however, as ‘heartless’ describes this Government to a tee, the people this cause of action is the only form of defense for are screwed.

  79. hot press (March 12, 1:40am) – Couldn’t have put it better myself. The next General Election will certainly be an interesting one as the Tories are making themselves hated by more and more people each day but Labour aren’t particularly popular at the moment either. The LibDems are going to have to do some damage limitation soon or they won’t be trusted ever again. Makes me wonder who’s out there to represent the British public as a whole. I mean – are there really any electable people left?

  80. Ed (March 12, 2:16am & 2:20 am) – Yes, that’s the real problem. It’s not as though you’re given a pint pot in which to try and get a quart out.

    Those questions are at the very heart of deciding who will be considered electable at the next election. The Tories will give us more of the same unless they grow a conscience between them and come up with a ‘Plan B’. Who knows what Labour has in store? They are keeping very quiet and don’t seem to be being very effective as an opposition at the moment. Who knows where the other parties stand?

  81. NoVoice (March 12, 9:00am) – The suggestion you make in the first part of your first paragraph is a really good one. I would just say this about your reference to private renters being subject to similar restrictions – those restrictions are there because 1) private rents are much higher and therefore the more rooms you have the more HB the State would have to pay out and 2) as there is a greater variety of properties available in the private sector, it’s easier to find a smaller living space to move onto. As for your comment about the left making it an ideological point that people should be entitled to indefinite assistance, I don’t think anyone believes that regardless of ideological views.

    I’m not sure that’s entirely correct about immigration but it certainly doesn’t help. As I have never denied that all administrations have had a role to play, I hope you were not including me in your swipe at Labour supporters. The question remains – why did the need for welfare increase during those years? Is it possible that the financial meltdown was so slow to build up over so long that no-one noticed it was happening in the first place?

    The amount of people out there unable to contribute financially is indeed shocking but there is so much avoided tax revenue out there that remains unclaimed that it is unfair to penalise the poor. The better off in society have a social and moral duty to help those who are disadvantaged. I was a taxpayer and although I complained about the amount I had to pay, I never had the audacity or bare-faced cheek to complain about the people being supported by my contributions.

    Well, this Government is trying to screw the disadvantaged until there are none of them left either so neither side can claim the high ground.

    With an attitude like that, I’m glad that you’re not in charge. One thing is certain – partisan politics is not going to get us out of this.

  82. hot press (March 12, 9:55am) – I have to say that I agree with everything you said. The narrowest shoulders are being asked to bare the greatest burden despite having little enough as it is. Most are on welfare because they have no choice and, although the welfare bill may be part of the problem, it cannot be blamed upon the recipients of welfare.

  83. Bernard87 (March 12, 10:47am) – You misrepresented what I said because you said I didn’t care about how the money was accounted for. I didn’t say that I didn’t care nor did I ever imply it. I have made it quite clear where at least some of the money could be found – in the vast amounts of unclaimed tax avoided by individuals and corporations. In some of your comments, you certainly give the impression that you believe all claimants are hardly deserving of assistance. As I am being fully transparent regarding my circumstances and you remain silent, it’s obvious that I would assume you are not a recipient yourself. If, however, you declare your circumstances, it may go some way to supporting your argument.

    With regards to voluntary work, I wish more people had the attitude you displayed in your comment, however, many still believe that benefiting your community is being off of benefits. One man on Twitter actually told me that voluntary work performed by someone on benefit is worthless.

    I agree that it will take a long time to tackle tax avoidance but the OBR have been warning Cameron that his austerity measures are harming economic recovery and this Government hasn’t even started to look at proper measures to collect avoided tax. This reluctance and the lack of economic growth aren’t going to solve the problem though. I would prefer to see money going into services rather than welfare but that won’t change any time soon.

    You have me the qualification to attack you for your views and judging people when you misrepresented me and made generalisations about claimants even if you did so by mistake.

    I look at both sides and make a judgment call. I am not affected by the changes to the HB rules but I do have a social conscience and believe in social justice so I take the position that my conscience and my belief guides me to. I am not centrist or left-leaning, I’m apolitical. Anyone can have a social conscience and want social justice, not just lefties.

    As you maintain that I am mistaken in seeing an attack in your comment, you are likewise mistaken in your view of my comments on MPs perks.
    I’ve already said a little on what can be done to raise more money for welfare so I won’t repeat myself. As for blaming Labour for the burgeoning welfare bill, I agree that they did help make the bill larger but this Government isn’t making it smaller either; it is merely postponing an even bigger welfare bill by setting people up to fail by forcing them into work that they will lose meaning they have to return to the benefits system. Penalising claimants by taking away their benefit will only mean that the bill is reduced in the short-term. The minimum wage was never increased enough as time went on so it would never have constituted a living wage.

    To illustrate the point on slave labour – a woman was earning minimum wage in Poundland until she was made redundant and ended up on benefits. Her position was taken by a workfare slave. That slave turned out to be her.

    Another point to illustrate the situation – a young girl was on a workfare placement in her local Tesco, she liked the work in the in-store bakery and was told that she would be offered a proper paid position at the end of the placement. Come her last day, she was told that, unfortunately, there was no paid position for her as they were downsizing the staff and she left devastated. Days later, she had been replaced by another workfare slave.

    I’ll skip over the areas we agree on and conclude with your final point. I agree that I open up debates and should expect criticism and attacks and I thank you for commending me for replying to most comments. As for being unprofessional in my replies to you, I have to point out that my column is as professional as a blog can be, being as it is, my commentary on subjects but, until someone gives me a paid position to write my columns for a living, I’m just a regular guy like anyone else doing a voluntary piece of work. My comments, unless they are updates on the main article, are my personal thoughts and feelings to other’s comments and I have to post them as such. I am surprised to hear that you think I make a good contribution to YT seeing as we disagree most of the time. As you have graciously admitted to have hit a raw nerve with the tone of your comment, I apologise for my rather colourful use of language towards you.

  84. The Contrarian (March 13, 3:17pm) – If we are all in this together as Cameron is so fond of saying then if the people on benefits have to pay up for extra rooms or downsize their property then everyone should pay extra for empty rooms.

    The idea of having a review might work, however, there is the assumption that there are enough smaller properties around to move to or that the tenant had a choice in the size of property they were offered. For example, my wife and I were placed in a two-bedroom flat because that was what was available and was, at the time at least, standard procedure for couples.

    On your last point, I’d have to say that, until there are enough cheaper properties on the market, for some, there are no alternatives. Social housing is built to house those who cannot afford to buy or rent in the private sector. The State controls the rents charged to keep the charges low otherwise there would be a while new problem for each Government to face – that of massive homelessness – that could end up costing the taxpayers much more.

  85. The Contrarian (March 14, 9:06am) – Social housing is most certainly not a benefit, it is a property with a State-controlled rent, a rent that is fair to those on low budgets some of whom pay the rent without assistance from welfare.

    Social housing, at least in my experience, is relatively low-quality and not even worth the price we’re charged for it. That said, it is easier (usually) to get repairs done a bit quicker than with private sector landlords.

  86. rocket1 (March 14, 4:19pm) – You are entitled to that view but I have two questions for you: What would you do to those you made homeless by scrapping social housing? And with tax cuts, how would you be able to pay for the removal of all the dead bodies?

  87. jinksbella (March 14, 4:56pm) – I agree with you on the subject of unoccupied social housing, it’s an issue that certainly needs addressing.

    The other issue is harder to solve because it seems that there is some deceit in play to allow someone to keep a house by pretending grown up children still live at home. Unless some incontrovertible evidence can be presented to the council abuses like that are going to happen unfortunately.

    There are some people who live off the State as a lifestyle, don’t, however, let that affect your opinion of those who genuinely need help who make up the vast majority.

  88. With reference to the mentioning of Bevin, as people have said to me – systems change. It may not be Bevin’s original system but time has moved on. Who can honestly say what Bevin would think of what his legacy has become?

  89. I have to agree with rocket1. Technically, it isn’t a tax as hot press points out that is what it has become widely known as.

    It is, in fact, an increase in the amount of rent a claimant will have to pay based on a reduction in HB and the number of ‘spare’ bedrooms.

  90. rocket1 – 1) There aren’t enough jobs to go around and some people may not be able to get one due to physical, mental or other restrictions, 2) would you want to take a stranger into your home? and 3) what if there aren’t any smaller homes available?

  91. I’d just like to thank everyone who has kept this debate going whilst I have been unable to participate. I only wish all my columns got this kind of response – good, bad, critical, supportive – I welcome such frenzied debates because we might unearth a solution in the process.

  92. From figures given in Parliament there are more under occupiers than under occupiers.

    Housing Benefit: Social Rented Housing

    Mark Hendrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment he has made of the effects of the housing benefit under-occupancy charge on (a) the future provision of housing and (b) homelessness in local authorities in England and Wales. [146475]

    Mr Prisk: There are 249,000 overcrowded households in the social sector, while nearly 1.5 million under-occupy. The removal of the spare room subsidy should encourage more effective use of social housing by encouraging tenants to move to properties suitable for the size of their household, or taking in a lodger to occupy a spare bedroom. The Localism Act, and the introduction of ‘Homeswap Direct’, has made it easier for social tenants to move.

    12 Mar 2013 : Column 210W

    The measure should also encourage social landlords to be more strategic in the allocation of property. It should also influence their building programmes, helping to ensure more appropriately sized accommodation for demand. The Government is providing significant finance for new affordable homes to support the future provision of housing.

    The Government’s impact assessment for the removal of the spare room subsidy was published by DWP:

    This highlights that it is not possible to make robust assessments of the impacts for landlords and tenants as there is little research on the possible behavioural impacts of changing housing benefit in the social rented sector. However, DWP is commissioning external researchers to monitor and evaluate the impacts of the measure, to report in 2015.

  93. Here is a story I found on Facebook that illustrates the sort of problems faced by people on benefits. I have removed the lady’s name and there was no indication of where she resides; otherwise, everything in the paragraph below is reproduced verbatim:

    “well got my letter regarding bedrrom tax today
    saying i have to pay £11 plus a week because i
    have a spare room, was occupied until a year
    ago, i have several problems /dissabilities and a
    son who is going through autism diagnosis ,
    money is already tight and yet the tories seem
    to punish us more :/ I have only just finished
    paying back money that i was told i was owed to
    the council because of their payments mess ups
    from about 7 years ago plus and now this ,
    having kids, let alone an autistic kid who doesnt
    stop eating – not just food but clothes, pens,
    pencils,furniture etc etc makes it hard….along
    side having gas and electric meters….this is the
    final straw :/ :(“

  94. Here’s another story from Facebook, anonymised and reproduced verbatim:

    ” i have just moved house yet the rent is more or
    less the same amount moved from a 3 to a 2
    bedroom was really stressful and upsetting and
    just because of a box bedroom makes me so so
    angry all the suffering this is causeing i had a
    break down 2 years ago and one when 14 yrs
    old second at 16 yrs old then one when i was 26
    its stress like this that can cause it to happen
    again hope cameron is pleased with what he is
    doing to all those who are un able to work its
    gonna make alot of people ill even tho most are
    already ill”

  95. Parents with disabled children are not exempt from the ‘bedroom tax’ – only those with severally disabled children where the local authority is satisfied the child needs an additional bedroom. Each case will be looked at individually for the local authority to decide depending on any supporting medical evidence provided.

    The DWP issued guidance about this last week – No 7 on the guidance notes.

  96. A brave stand? Tell that to someone in cramped acommodation. I’d have thought the Greens might have taken a more sensible view – as it is very inefficient (from an environmental perspective) to have properties underoccupied.

  97. The Contrarian – It’s a brave stand for a single council to take when it opposes the Government of the day.

    I’d also point out that homeowners who live in properties larger than they require are inefficient from an environmental perspective as they also underoccupy their property so, to be fair, they should be charged extra for ‘spare’ bedrooms. And homeowners are better placed financially to pay the extra charge.

  98. VMC,

    Perhaps it is ‘brave’ but it’s certainly misguided. I’m all for local authorities taking the lead – Whitehall generally has too much power – but I just hope that residents will understand that the cost involved in doing that. That cost might be financial, or it might just mean that overcrowding occurs elsewhere, or that waiting lists for suitable properties are longer than they might otherwise be.

    You’re quite correct, homeowners who live in larger properties than they need are also environmentally inefficient; however, most have “earned” that right and a couple living in a four bedroom house which they own, will pay more council tax than a couple living in a one bedroom flat. As a result, you’ll see that many home owners are naturally incentivised to downsize (my parents are in the process of moving from a house to a bungalow now that we’ve all flown the nest!). Those on benefits aren’t impacted in the same way as many aren’t meeting the cost of the rent or the council tax, so it makes no difference to them if they stay put or not. In that sense, these ‘bedroom tax’ proposals ensure (in the way that all benefits should’) that benefit recipients are required to make the same or similar considerations as those who fund the benefits.

    Lastly, not all homeowners are wealthy – which is why the ~Lib Dem ‘Mansion Tax’ is so dangerous.

  99. The Contrarian – At least they are not willing to evict people who are struggling to pay.

    Actually, quite a few people have inherited their house from parents, etc so not all have ‘earned’ the right to have properties larger than they need. And, from April 1st, even those on Housing Benefit will be paying some of their rent and their Council Tax.

    Saying that “it makes no difference to them if they stay put or not” is a very offensive thing to say. Are you saying that people in social housing can’t be attached to their home in the same way homeowners are? And, before you say that benefits income is not earned so isn’t an individual’s own money, I’d like to point out that benefits are not loans to be repaid; the State assists those who need financial help to survive due to low pay, sickness, disability or lack of employment.

    And, while we’re on the subject of what people consider benefits to be, I have a quick word to say to those who say that benefits are subsidies – if you are so against people receiving subsidies then does that mean you wish all subsidising to stop? If so, where will that leave the farmers (who are businessmen) who can only continue to run their farms with the subsidies they get from the State (and the EU, I’d like to point out)? If they have to close their farms, that will add to the unemployment figures, affect the economy as there will be less paying income tax and probably increase the amount of food that has to be imported and decrease the amount we can export. And where do you stand on RBS? The bank was effectively subsidised by the taxpayer to keep it running. It was not a loan, yet have we seen any return on the investment? And huge bonuses have still been paid out for failure.

    The ‘subsidy’ paid to genuinely needy benefit claimants is pretty good value for money when you think of the cost of clearing up the mess left in society if the welfare system didn’t exist. As you can see, I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject and thinking about both sides, i.e. the potential costs of no welfare compared with the cost of welfare, and I still believe that having a benefits system is better.

  100. O.k. Old Chap, I’ll deal with each of your points in the order you raised them.

    “…At least they are not willing to evict people who are struggling to pay.”

    That’s great, if that’s the stand they wish to take. I was simply pointing out that in not ‘incentvising’ people, it would potentially result in fewer suitable properties being available. Those on waiting lists who supported that policy would have no right to complain at any delays.

    “Actually, quite a few people have inherited their house from parents, etc so not all have ‘earned’ the right to have properties larger than they need. And, from April 1st, even those on Housing Benefit will be paying some of their rent and their Council Tax.”

    You’re right. If you read my post, I do say that “most” not “all” have earned that right. I’m not in favour of intergenerational wealth. But you see, I’m able to make that statement on a principled basis – as I would potentially stand to benefit from it, and my kids even more so. I’d happily see inheritance tax thresholds frozen. Though I’d prefer to see wealth given away prior to death, or to worthwhile charities (which a fewer and farther between) upon death. I’d have no problem with the State having it if I didn’t think they’d waste it.

    “…from April 1st, even those on Housing Benefit will be paying some of their rent and their Council Tax.”

    I’m not too familiar with the intracacies of Housing and Council Tax benefit, but if the new contribution is to be paid from JSA or Income support, or whatever other benefit, then it’s a bit of a moot point.

    “Saying that “it makes no difference to them if they stay put or not” is a very offensive thing to say. Are you saying that people in social housing can’t be attached to their home in the same way homeowners are?”

    It’s not offensive to say that. I’m merely saying that because they don’t meet the costs of overoccupying, they’re not insentivised to consider moving on. With regards to the point yuou make about attachment, I’m saying exactly that. I don’t begrudge anyone a home; however as a tennant (social or otherwise) you can’t necessarily become as attached to your home, as it’s not yours to do with as you will. As much as you might wish that wasn’t so, that’s the way it is. Social tennants are (up until now) afforded more protection, but I honestly don’t think they should be. I’ll say it again, fixed term tenancies are the answer.

    “..And, before you say that benefits income is not earned so isn’t an individual’s own money, I’d like to point out that benefits are not loans to be repaid; the State assists those who need financial help to survive due to low pay, sickness, disability or lack of employment.”

    Benefits aren’t necessarily earned. It’s difficult to contest though because we’ve broken the link between the requirement to pay in, and the ability to take out. Remeber, the State doesn’t have it’s own money. Start substituting the word “State” with “net contributing taxpayer” or even “taxpayer” Let’s be utterly frank, many of those on benefits don’t deserve them, It really is about time we stopped beating around the bush and acknowledged that a good number (but by no means all, or even a majority – in fact I’d probably define it as a ‘significant minority’) of benefit claimants are (to one degree or another) lazy, feckless, cheats. It’s State largesse that’s made them that way. They feel they no longer have to take responsibility for their own lives, becasue the taxpayer, feeds and clothes them, puts a roof over their heads, educates their children, provised “free” healthcare. Frankly it’s a fu**ing joke.

    “And, while we’re on the subject of what people consider benefits to be, I have a quick word to say to those who say that benefits are subsidies – if you are so against people receiving subsidies then does that mean you wish all subsidising to stop? If so, where will that leave the farmers (who are businessmen) who can only continue to run their farms with the subsidies they get from the State (and the EU, I’d like to point out)? If they have to close their farms, that will add to the unemployment figures, affect the economy as there will be less paying income tax and probably increase the amount of food that has to be imported and decrease the amount we can export.”

    You’ve made a bit of a leap there, but you’re correct in that I’m instinctively against any subsidies. I’m a capitalist to my bones. Having prevously worked for an investment bank (for several years) and now working for a produce/farming company, I’m almost uniquely placed to deal with this next bit; however, without wanting to patronise you, I don’t think that your understanding of farming subsidies and the problems inherent in the CAP are sufficient to enable a more detailed explanation. I’m not saying that to sound like a c0ck or belittle you, because it’s beyond the reckoning of most people outside of the industry. Put simply, our farmers don’t need subsidies, they’re already among the most efficient in the world – if not THE most efficient in the world. Sadly, this country is not, from a food consumption perspective, self-sufficient, so we do need to improt. French farmers are the single biggest recipents of subsidy. Because they can sell int our market, we have to give our farmers subsidy to compete – which is just ridiculous. The whole thing is a fraud and should be disbanded ASAP. In the event that we removed subsidy, and didn’t allow subsidised imports, the cost of food would find its own level. After all. We all have to eat!

    “…And where do you stand on RBS? The bank was effectively subsidised by the taxpayer to keep it running. It was not a loan, yet have we seen any return on the investment? And huge bonuses have still been paid out for failure.”

    I think we will eventually see a return; however, as a caitalist, I’d have seen the bank go to the wall. That’s what capitalism demands, yet we’ve ended up with a hybrid system which just hasn’t worked.

    “The ‘subsidy’ paid to genuinely needy benefit claimants is pretty good value for money when you think of the cost of clearing up the mess left in society if the welfare system didn’t exist.”

    It just isn’t, because too many get trapped on benefits and therefore never reach their true potential. Also, you suppose that nothing existed before the welfare state, which is simply untrue. We’ve become less generous as a nation – with regards to charitable giving. That’s principally because the State has now taken over, and taxes us so heavily to meet is misguided aims, that there’s little left in the pot for anything else.

  101. I should say, I welcome the reasoned debate. Even though I don’t believe we’ll ever be on the “same side” 🙂

  102. I will be replying to the longer comments aimed at me tomorrow as I have been a bit too busy to make any long replies over the last few days. Please be assured that I am not ignoring you.

    The Thurrock Heckler blog has given this column a mention in their own coverage of the Bedroom Tax and I recommend that anyone who’s interested in the subject go over to their article at

  103. Labour said freedom of information responses showed local councils had sufficient one and two-bedroom properties to house only one in 20 of those families with spare rooms.
    Responses from 37 authorities across Britain revealed 96,041 households faced losing benefit but there were only 3,688 smaller homes available.
    Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said: “These shocking new figures reveal the big lie behind this Government’s cruel bedroom tax.

  104. […] According to government estimates, 660,000 households will suffer a cut in their benefit. For one ‘spare’ room, the amount of rent eligible for assistance will be cut by 15%, for two ‘spare’ rooms, the cut will be 25%. On average, the cut in benefit will be £14 per week for council tenants and £16 per week for housing association tenants. That might not sound a lot to someone on a comfortable salary but to someone struggling at the margins, this represents a major budgetary crisis. For a detailed analysis of the consequences of the Bedroom Tax, we recommend that you read Myles’ Blog: The Bedroom Tax – […]


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