THE BLOG

The Cruelties of the 'Bedroom Tax'

30/09/2013 11:51 BST | Updated 29/11/2013 10:12 GMT

There is nothing wrong with the idea of people with rooms to spare moving to smaller accommodation and making way for larger families. If there were positive incentives to do this - some sort of tax relief or other reward for doing the right thing then people might choose to do it if it suited their particular circumstances.

Of course the reality of how the so called 'bedroom tax' is being implemented is entirely different.

People on the benefits with spare bedrooms are having money taken away from them in order to 'encourage' them to move. It is aimed - by definition - solely at the poorest people in the Country and it is being implemented in such a crude, clumsy, manner that it is causing a lot of poor people a lot of serious problems and it hard to see what these people have done to deserve it.

Around 50,000 Council tenants and least another 30,000 housing association tenants have already fallen into arrears and many may face eviction from their homes because of this policy. Figures released by local authorities show that up to 96% of those liable to have their benefits cut cannot find alternative smaller homes. So this policy is causing a lot of people stress and difficulties which they can do little about.

One of the major problems is a lack of new homes - births in England between 2001 and 2011 totaled 6.9 million whilst only 1.6 million new homes were built in the same period.

The stated objective of the policy - that of freeing up larger homes for bigger families - cannot be achieved in most cases. So is this simply a cynical exercise in reducing spending on benefits under the lie of freeing up bigger homes?

Of course there are those who would support this policy even knowing all this - taking the view that its 'hard luck' on those on benefits - shouldn't be so poor and living off tax-payers money and so on. Such is the politics of the demonization of poor people - that this sort of cruel and unnecessary policy can be implemented.

We have not heard much about George Osbourne's "all in this together" idea recently - just as well since this sort of cruel policy is causing stress and suffering to tens of thousands of our fellow citizens - and for what - just because they found themselves in bigger homes than they now need?

This is the politics of division and hatred and it depletes us as a nation. We hear - and will hear again - stories about benefits scroungers living in luxury - this to license Ministers to take away even more from the poorest in our communities.

The politicians who seek to divide communities by punishing the poorest whilst accusing them of taking what is not theirs - in turn - take away any sense of us being a fair and just society. This, in stark contrast to the very high earnings of those that nearly drove our economy into the abyss.

The rich and the powerful want more money and they don't want to be paying out for benefit payments for the poorest people and certain politicians represent them and rely on their financial support - that is why we have a policy like this.

And more than that - I suspect that the policy makers who dream up such things really don't like poor people - they don't take an objective view of the economics and the fairness of it - they really want to cause them harm or - if not that - then they are reckless in the extreme about whether the policy will do harm.

Perhaps one day in better times we will be embarrassed that we ever did this. We may not be getting the 'big society' - whatever that is supposed to mean - but we are certainly getting a nastier more divided society.