The Bedroom Tax – the most divisive charge since the Poll Tax?

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The Poll Tax and the Bedroom Tax certainly  have two things in common – first, they go under popular & common descriptive rather than official & correct names,. and second when introduced they were utterly despised by the general population (the ‘well-off’ were big supporters of both though, weren’t they?).

The Poll tax was introduced by Conservative PM Margaret Thatcher to replace local Rates tax (first in Scotland in 1989), and was quickly seen as unfair and strenuously opposed (four out of five people were against it). Thatcher was warned that it was toxic but she stuck with it (it was her own flagship policy you see) and most believe it was her epitaph (she lasted less than eight months after its introduction in England in 1990).

When the Poll Tax was being brought-in, the normally placid British population actually rioted in towns & cities including London (which saw both violence and looting). This uncharacteristic behaviour proved to be the final nail in the coffin of this tax which had to be repealed in 1993 by the next Tory government under PM John Major.

Conservative PM David Cameron introduced the Bedroom Tax two years ago (second Birthday in a couple of weeks time), and it was quickly seen as unfair and vigorously opposed. Moreover it is widely viewed as an attack on the poor, the low income people, the vulnerable, and the disabled – the disabled make up two-thirds of those impacted, and that may yet be judged by the English courts as illegal discrimination.

The so called tax is actually & basically the ‘withdrawal’ of housing benefit (up to a quarter) from Council house tenants (and Housing Groups renters) who are deemed to have ‘too many’ bedrooms (or rooms that could be a bedroom). The prime concept they ‘claimed’ (but nobody believed it, did they?) was to coerce the disenfranchised occupants to leave their house and move to a smaller property – downsize indeed.

The initial concern is that people are often being asked to suddenly ‘up-sticks’ and leave what has been their family home or locality for countless years. Even more critical though is that there are NO smaller properties available in the social housing stock to move to (for some ninety-five percent of those affected). The guiding principle behind the Bedroom Tax has been vindictively, strenuously & vigorously applied though, including to incomprehensible cases like where a bedroom is required for a carer, or indeed where a room has been fitted out by the Council, at a cost of tens of thousands of pounds, for use by a disabled child. If your child dies and so frees-up a bedroom you have to move, as simple as that. It is another Tory toxic policy, but just how toxic only time will tell, don’t you think? Perhaps the disabled will take to the streets in their wheelchairs and walking stick weapons  to riot, fight the police, and loot indiscriminately, do you think?

The Bedroom Tax as a policy has failed miserably though, hasn’t it? The cost savings have been nowhere near those predicted in its favour (thirty percent less?); it has failed in its supposed primary goal of freeing-up properties – successful in only five percent of cases; it has though brought turmoil, penury & misery to in excess of half a million  people (six out of ten affected tenants are now in rent arrears). I was brought in by ideological dogma and an overriding Tory desire to reduce the size of the State. It could prove to be their Achilles heel though, you might conclude?

Only the Conservatives seem to remain in favour of the Bedroom Tax – those against, include the SNP and the Scottish Assembly, Greens, LibDems (who voted it in), Labour, UKIP, BNP, Plaid Cymru, DUP, SDLP, NI Alliance Party, UUP, Sinn Fein and countless community organisations, and housing groups.

 

 

[The Conservatives used the world economic crises to embark on their lifelong crusade to dismantle the State’s responsibilities, and they used their desire to reduce the Welfare budget by attacking those lease able to fight back].

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