The only place benefit reforms are fair is Iain Duncan Smith’s mind

Getting ready to rumble: These Bedroom Tax protesters aren't going to take the government's changes lying down - oh, sorry. This is Ant and Dec. But a video of Bedroom Tax protests, set to their 'Let's Get Ready To Rumble', would make a strong point.

Getting ready to rumble: These Bedroom Tax protesters aren’t going to take the government’s changes lying down – oh, sorry. This is Ant and Dec. But a video of Bedroom Tax protests, set to their ‘Let’s Get Ready To Rumble’, would make a strong point.

Newswatchers woke this morning to an announcement from DWP dictator Iain Duncan Smith that changes to the UK’s social security system that came into effect today are “fair”.

Was this an April Fool? One might reasonably think so, since he also trotted out the long-discredited line that it was about making sure “people find work always pays”. We all know that work won’t pay until people receive a living wage – the amount of benefit paid out by the government has nothing to do with that at all.

The measures, which are designed to put the squeeze on people who are genuinely poor and in need of state help, will actually ensure that families are around £900 a year worse off (some say “than when the Coalition entered government in 2010”, but some don’t).

The fact that they attack the poor shows that this government is intentionally ignoring the point – which is that those who caused the economic crash in the first place (bankers and the very rich) should by paying off the debts.

Instead, this government is giving a £100,000 tax handout to anyone on the top tax rate. Mr Smith’s ‘Mandatory Work Activity’ schemes drain hundreds of millions of pounds from the taxpayer and nearly £1 billion from the economy every year, while paying the vast majority of that money to rich business bosses, who ensure it is never seen again.

And Smith himself appears to have become confused about what he is trying to achieve. In the Telegraph, four days ago, he said: “If you listen to what I am saying, you will understand the reality is that this country is not cutting welfare, it is managing the growth at a lower level.” So the bill is increasing, is it?

But on the BBC website today he is quoted as saying the government was “trying to get control of the welfare bill and make sure it lowers.”

What is he doing, then – managing an increase or forcing a cut? Either way, the wrong people are being made to suffer.

In the same BBC article, a Liberal Democrat pensions minister called Steve Webb said the bedroom tax was supposed to help a quarter of a million people in Britain who are in “cramped, overcrowded accommodation – desperate for a family home and there aren’t enough homes and we’ve got to make better use of the houses we’ve got.”

Did the interviewer press him to admit that the Conservative policy of selling off council houses during the 1980s and 1990s was wrong? No. Opportunity missed there, BBC!

Remember: There isn’t enough social housing because the Tories sold it all off and pocketed the profit, rather than using it to build more. That’s why there isn’t enough to go around now. They created this situation.

And, if you’re in the overcrowded accommodation to which Mr Webb refers – or a victim of the Bedroom Tax, you are going to pay for it.

The simple fact of the Bedroom Tax is that it is a trap. The government says people can avoid paying it by moving to smaller accommodation, but this avoids the reality that such properties are not available – figures released by the Labour Party show that 97 per cent of the 600,000 affected households have nowhere else to go.

They have no choice but to take the loss in benefits and pay the difference themselves, while they appeal against the decision to include their household in those affected. Current advice is for everyone affected by the Bedroom Tax to appeal. Why make it easy for them?

The BBC website report goes on to damn the government’s other so-called “reforms” (the Conservatives use this word wrongly. A reform would make something better. These are simply cuts).

“It has been estimated that two million low income households [in England] will pay more, as a result of changes to council tax benefit,” the article states.

“Also from this month, most working-age benefits will increase by just one per cent – less than the likely rise in the cost of living.

“And later this month, an overall limit of £500 a week on claims is beginning in four London boroughs, and will come into force across England, Scotland and Wales over the coming months.”

Fair?

Only in the warped recesses of Mr Smith’s mind.

Those of you who watch the pop charts will know that Ant and Dec are enjoying considerable success with their new version of Let’s Get Ready To Rumble.

I mention this because there has to be enough footage of Saturday’s anti-bedroom tax demonstrations to make a decent video to synch up with that perfectly-titled track.

Would anybody like to put one together and post it on YouTube? It could be a smash hit.

In more ways than one.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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14 thoughts on “The only place benefit reforms are fair is Iain Duncan Smith’s mind

  1. Voodoo Shack Lady

    Omg amazing idea re. video! Sadly my skills are limited to mashing the keyboard til stuff happens. But I did just realise the perfect choice for Anti-Bedroomtax-Curse, will you help me spread it like a viral virus of doom?? @IDS -“A Plague On Both Your Houses” – catchy and classic..

  2. theoldhatman

    Quote from the Discretionary Housing Payments Guidance Manual issued by the DWP Appendix A Section 2: 2.2 “We expect that most claimants affected by this measure (the Bedroom Tax) will find ways of making up the shortfall themselves, in order to remain in their existing home.” So if this is the case any talk by Ministers or MP’s about the Bedroom Tax being an attempt to address the issue of overcrowding or waiting lists is proved to be sheer nonsense, lies and spin. It is a policy that only works (ie saves money) if it fails (ie no one moves and pays the shortfall.) So it is a tax. and it is plunging people deep into poverty and despair. It is time for all decent minded people to stand up and be counted as against a Government that is wickedly victimising its own people?
    http://www.facebook.com/groups/We.Will.Not.Stand.Idly.By/

  3. Stephen Bee

    Via UK Uncut

    The ConDems want to put the last nail in the coffin of our welfare state. But we have found this government and their cronies to be morally bankrupt. One unlucky millionaire will be facing eviction on 13th April 2013.

    Don’t give up or give in. We must continue the fight back. Join UK Uncut for our next day of action on April 13th, ‘Who Wants To Evict A Millionaire’, as we bring some misery to the misery makers. Let’s not let this be the end of our welfare state. We can still re-write history!

    http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/blog/updated-call-out-who-wants-to-evict-a-millionaire-saturday-13th-april

    1. Mike Sivier

      This isn’t recent research. January 27-30, 2012 is far too long ago to be considered anything like representative of current thinking. The Bedroom Tax had not been conceived at the time. People were unaware that council tax benefit was to be withdrawn and replaced with a scheme equivalent to the Poll Tax. Many of the other benefit changes that come into effect this month were unheralded.
      You’ll notice also that beliefs professed by those who were surveyed are very much at odds with the facts – look how many people thought half of those on benefits were scroungers. In fact the total figure is less than one-hundredth.

    2. Jaz

      If people support the government at all it’s because they haven’t yet realised exactly what is going to happen and whom it will affect. People believe that only lazy men and women who “choose” to live on benefits are the ones being targeted. Once they see disabled men and women losing their homes, children cast into poverty, and the innocent suffering, council house waiting lists rising, unemployment increasing etc., etc., they will inevitably change their minds.

      From today onwards the citizens of this country will SEE with their own eyes what these benefit “reforms” will actually do, unmodified and undistorted by newspaper editors and the media.

      Before the next general election in May of 2015 I wonder how many people will still be for the Coalition’s welfare changes.

      Very many less than 74% I would bet.

    3. Martin

      The welfare cuts will end up being David Cameron’s equivalent of Tony Blair’s Iraq disaster: begun and justified by a pack of lies, causing immense suffering and fatalities amongst the innocent, while at the same time costing a fortune and making the country and the world much worse places. People will wake up to what is happening as the misery rises like a bloody tide to lap around everybody’s ankles. Nothing will be able to hide what is actually going to go on in every city, town, village or hamlet. Everybody will now see what the coalition stands for and I can assure you that the word “fairness” (which the coalition are now trying to subliminally embed into the public consciousness by repeating it over and over like a mantra) will not be uppermost in the British people’s minds. Based on lies the coalition’s programme will tumble down like a house of cards, but not before causing immense and unnecessary pain and death amongst so many of the innocent.

  4. sylvanmoonscape

    Brilliant articles, as always. But I do wonder whether the “Current advice is for everyone affected by the Bedroom Tax to appeal. Why make it easy for them?” is really going to have any effect at all. Appeals will be made to Local Councils, who are hamstrung in that their funds have been cut to merciless levels too. The parliamentarians who could repeal this won’t even be touched by it. And if Labour-led councils start “whining” that they’re being tied up in appeals, it’s going to be yet more ammunition for them to say they’re the usual suspects. I’m not sure what individuals can do.

  5. Fiona

    Not only did the Cons sell off massive of then council houses, Maggy Thatcher’s son bought 40 of them and is now raking dosh from the housing benefits through private rentals!!!! What the hell is wrong with country… when do stand and say enough is enough….. I’m slowly dieing here….

  6. Pingback: The only place benefit reforms are fair is Iain Duncan Smith’s mind | Vox Political | meandering Blog

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