Labour party backs bedroom tax
Here is Labour frontbencher Helen Goodman confirming that her party supports the ‘Bedroom Tax’. The charge, a deduction from benefits for anyone who lives in social housing and who has ‘spare’ bedrooms – such as because children don’t share a room – has been widely condemned as unjust.
Yet the Labour party has now clarified that it is, in fact, in favour of the controversial measure. The party states one exception: those people who have not been offered a smaller house. The shadow minister failed to rule out the families of disabled children who need a spare room for their carers, the parents of soldiers who have gone overseas, or single parents whose children’s time is split between their parents.
Presumably this means that the Labour party is in fact in favour of attacking all of the hardest affected groups we have all learnt about in recent weeks.
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Bizarrely, we had a letter from our council asking how many of us live here and how many bedrooms we have (which is a bit of a poser for us as one of the upstairs rooms is narrow enough I can touch three of the walls at once without extending my arms and legs. Is it a bedroom?).
Bizarre, because we own our house, and apart from my husband’s pension claim no benefits. An uncomfortable feeling we might be next.
I’ve always had a mortgage. Now my son has long left home (he’s 21 now) we are thinking we will have to downsize sooner if not later to pay off the mortgage . That is what private house owners have to do. Downsize.
Labours official position on the BT
“Labour will not rest until Ministers think again, admit they have got this wrong and drop this hated tax for good.”
No James, it’s not. That’s the sales pitch. The idea is rather to stigmatise social housing tenants by making out they occupy more space than they need, and that this costs “us taxpayers” money.
In fact if they have to move, because in many areas there’s a shortage of the smaller units they are supposed to move into, they will end up in the private rented sector, at higher rents (paid for by “us taxpayers”), but more crowded, and less security of tenure. Who gains from this? Private landlords.
We need to recognise that the places people live aren’t just warehousing, to fit their minimum requirements. They are people’s homes, bound up in their history, memories, and social connections. We want a housing policy which recognises and meets that, not something which shifts people to a smaller shelf in the warehouse as soon as a member of the household moves out, or dies. If that means that someone lives in a three-bed house instead of moving 10 miles to take a smaller 2-bed flat at a higher rent, well I’m fine with that. I imagine most people would be.
As for new building, we have to build new homes come what may. They wear out and become beyond economic repair past a certain point. At the moment, we are building far less than needed to maintain the rate of replacement. In Toryspeak, this is “handing on a problem to the next generation”, though they don’t appear to recognise it as such.
Both new and existing housing consume resources, and require maintenance. New housing needs less of both, and consumes far less energy. But new housing is tarnished with the image of estates of poor quality housing built by get-rich-quick developers, whose interest ends at the point of sale, and doesn’t stretch to long term maintenance costs, space standards, cost to the occupant of heating, and so on. We need a better standard of new housing than this. And we also need to conserve and improve older housing, where it’s practical to do so. The two things aren’t in opposition.
But the bedroom tax is barking mad, morally objectionable, and wholly unacceptable.
More here: http://www.edinburghgreens.org.uk/site/blog/whats-wrong-with-the-bedroom-tax/
Isn’t the idea of the ‘bedroom tax’ to make better use of the homes we have rather than build a load more which will all take a massive amount of natural resources both in building and maintaining?
James – Green Party housing policy, from the party website:
Right now Britain has a shortage of affordable and good quality housing to buy or rent. At the same time many home-owners are in danger of losing their properties in the recession and homelessness is still affecting thousands of people.
The Green Party will fight for a fair housing deal for all. We want to make it easier for people to get on the property ladder, to protect home-owners and to eradicate homelessness for good. Our comprehensive proposal includes:
Building a new generation of quality council homes
Supporting the development of housing co-ops
Bringing back into use Britain’s 300,000 long-term empty private sector homes
Renovating Britain’s 37,000 empty council homes to help cut waiting lists
Giving social housing tenants greater control over the management of their homes and neighbourhoods
Improving the quality of housing stock to help reduce household bills
Helping people at risk of repossession keep their homes via a Right to Rent scheme.
What is the Green Party’s stance on the housing situation and the need for more homes for young people?
Harriet – these things aren’t contradictory. On the one hand, Labour are saying that they disagree with the bedroom tax as is. On the other hand, they are saying they support something very similar.
At the very least, someone needs to clarify their position much more than that website does.