Saturday, 16 March 2013

Why the #bedroomtax IS a tax

A couple of days ago I had a telephone call from a local resident. She was distraught.

The lady called me to say she had had her housing benefit notification letter for the coming year and she didn't know what to do.

Her housing benefit had been cut from just short of £18 a week to just over £2.00 because the bedroom tax doesn't take into account income, it's based on 'eligible rent'.

From somewhere the lady in question has got to find the best part of £15.00 EVERY week.

Now my caller isn't what is euphemistically described as a shirker. She is a single mum who works hard in a low paid job a walking distance away from her home.

She doesn't claim full benefit but because of her low income but she needs help to make ends meet.

And now she doesn't know what to do.

She can't find £15.00 each week when her budget is so tight to begin with but she can't easily move because there is a massive shortage of smaller homes in her area and she won't be able to walk to work if she moves further afield.

And there lies the problem and the reason why the bedroom tax IS a tax.

Oxforddictionaries.com defines a tax as 'a strain or heavy demand'.

What is a new bill of £15.00 each and every week when you simply haven't got the money if it isn't the very worst kind of strain?

Dictionary.com says that a tax is 'a burdensome charge, obligation, duty or demand'.

What greater burden is there than not knowing whether you are going to be able to provide a home for your family? Or keep your job?

And of course the bedroom tax provides a great obligation on those having to pay it. Cough up or be evicted.

Unfortunately because the bedroom tax is a regressive one designed to hit the poorest in our society it's not one that can be easily avoided.

No, decent hardworking people are facing a tax they have no way out of.

Just because money isn't being paid to the treasury in the wider definition it doesn't mean that the bedroom tax isn't a tax to those families hit by it.

Next time a Conservative tells you it isn't a tax, it's a 'spare room subsidy' just remind them of my caller and the true impact of this disgraceful burden.


4 comments:

  1. Disgusting, Cameron is far worse than Thatcher,
    Although Cameron`s ancestors in medieval times were probably jailers or tax collectors, EVIL runs in the family ,

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  2. Who won the 2nd world war !` it`s a mystery as this country has nothing to show for it ,The ones that came second , Have a much better society to live in yes they get taxed as well , But they don`t have Cameron the leach, ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

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  3. I take it you have brought this up with Labour who introduced the these rules in 2008 on spare rooms for those in the private rented sector and did you call it a "disgraceful burden" then did you?

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    1. Thank you for your comment, you make an excellent comment which deserves a full answer.

      In 2008 Labour introduced LHA which initiated a link between family size (or need) with housing benefit entitlement in the private sector. I believe we were right to do so.

      It therefore stands to reason that I do not have an objection in principle to linking need to entitlement in the council or RSL sector.

      I believe most people of whatever party, or no political affiliation, agree benefit should be based on need and family size is a factor which at least influences this.

      Where the bedroom tax falls down badly is in how it has been implemented for 3 reasons:

      1. The bedroom tax is being implemented against long established claimants, crucially LHA did not. Many of the arguments about inequity could have been negated by having a rolling program of implementation for new claimants, as LHA did.

      2. Bedroom Tax does not take into account reasonable exceptions caused by the vagaries of family life. What about families who need a spare room for medical equipment, or many older couples who for many reasons sleep in separate bedrooms? The legislation would have been much more palatable had this type of exception been considered.

      3. The bedroom tax is reliant on people having a choice to downsize. Sadly there is a massive shortage of smaller housing units, something governments of all colours have failed us on. It seems grossly unfair to say you can reduce your rent by downsizing if there is nowhere to downsize to, doesn't it? We desperately need more social housing, particularly smaller units.

      Everyone I have spoken to who has been affected by bedroom tax either has a valid reason for needing a spare room OR are happy to downsize.

      Like many of this government's policies the bedroom tax has been treated as a 'black and white' issue. In fact, as we all know, there are many shades of grey in between.

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