Economic Prototype Communities Of Tomorrow – Why The Bedroom Tax Is Just The Start And What You Can Do About It

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“Have you heard of the bedroom tax?” my missus asked me this morning as I shambled into the living room after rising from my pit.

“Oh yes,” I replied confidently. “ It was a short lived revenue scheme introduced in 1851 after they repealed the unpopular Window Tax. It was an insane idea, so it didn’t last long.” If you don’t know the answer to a question, I find it’s best just to make something up. If you do it confidently enough, it’s a tactic that works with most people. I keep forgetting that it never works with your missus. Your missus is not “most people”.

She shook her head and sighed, something she does quite often, then proceeded to enlighten me on the subject of the Bedroom Tax. Or Under-occupation Penalty, as it is officially called.

The Bedroom Tax is the latest ingenious money stealing scheme hatched by the coalition. Like most of their schemes, it targets the poor and the vulnerable. Or “Scroungers” as The Government prefers to call them. Basically, It’s a reduction in housing benefit for people in social housing, based on how many spare rooms they are “deemed” to have. Always a scary word that. Deemed. It never seems to be associated with any kind of equitable arrangement.

Some say it isn’t a tax because it’s a curtailment of benefit. I stick with the old Poker adage on that point. “Chips you don’t lose are worth just as much as the chips you win”

It’s estimated that this scheme will affect 660,000 working age social tenants. Nearly two thirds of them are sick or disabled. An uninhabitable “box” room will count as spare room. Rooms adapted for special needs of the disabled will count. As will rooms needed for regular stays for overnight carers.

Also affected will be : parents of military personnel out fighting for their country, divorcees with joint custody agreements who need a room for their children to stay in and the recently bereaved. Also, foster parents, as fostered children are not counted as part of the household.  You know, the usual suspects scrounging bastard-wise.

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This should come as no shock, given the origin of the scheme itself. Just because New Labour turned into a profligate, money guzzling monster does not mean that Tories stopped being Tories. A fact that the Conservatives almost convinced the nation of in the last election. Almost but not quite. Which is why they needed the Lib-Dems to form a government. And the Lib-Dems are so scared of losing power that they’ve abandoned any of the principles they ever pretended to believe in.

The stated idea behind the Bedroom Tax is to encourage people in social housing to downsize or share. Unfortunately, due to the fact that very little social housing has been built in the last 30 years, there is nowhere for them to downsize to. And you’re not allowed to share because it’s against the social housing rules. There’s your cue for single men joining together in fake Civil Partnerships just to keep from being homeless.

It’s also the cue for  many people having to share privately rented accommodation, at the mercy of Rachmanesque landlords. Thus pushing up the already inflated housing benefit bill, which does sort of defeat the object. An army of underpaid and under-employed adults living like students and lining the pockets of the real social security scroungers who collect their rents.

What to do if you’re affected by this tax? When the Window Tax was introduced, people just bricked up their windows. That tax was said to be the origin of the phrase “Daylight Robbery” as it was, quite literally, a tax on daylight.

So, get some bricks and mortar and do the same. The room can’t be spare if no one can get in it. Or if you can’t afford that, and you probably can’t, send off for every free Government pamphlet there is and wedge your spare room solid with them. They publish thousands of the things, so it shouldn’t take long. Actually, don’t bother. They’ll have thought of that. There’ll be an “unused doorway” clause in the legislation somewhere.

If you’re sitting in your own house, all smug and middle class, don’t for one moment think that this doesn’t affect you. Unless you have paid your mortgage in full, your bank still owns your house, not you. Mr Cameron and his cronies are after the poor. And Mr Cameron is a multi-millionaire, so is definition of “the poor” is a great deal wider than you think.

Protest, write letters, riot if you have to. Though not in your own neighbourhood. I’ve never understood why people do that. No, throw bricks and petrol bombs around in Knightsbridge and Holland Park. The rich might pay some attention then. But do something, because this foul, shithouse trick of a tax is just the warm up for the main act.

This Government is just over halfway through its first term, and let’s face it, there’s almost certainly going to be a second one. The Lib-Dems are so tainted now that it will probably be another 100 years before they have a sniff of power. And the country is nowhere near forgiving New Labour enough to vote them in again, even if they had someone more credible than Milliband at the helm

The Tories want to cramp the unemployed together rather than building more social housing. A building program would boost the economy and give us a chance of starting on the road to group prosperity that isn’t based on a borrowing bubble. And that would never do. The rich must get richer and the poor must get poorer, that is the Tory way.

They also want the unemployed to work for their benefits. The most cost effective way to achieve both goals is to combine the two. So I think that Mr Cameron will appear to capitulate on the social housing issue. Great new buildings will be erected where the unemployed can live and also be employed in. And he’ll call them Economic Prototype Communities Of Tomorrow

Because the word “Workhouse” is already taken.

© Copyright Michael Grimes 2013

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About thedailygrime

At that awkward age - too young to be a grumpy old man, but just acerbic and downtrodden enough to have an opinion. Read it here.

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