To the devil with the details – axing the bedroom tax is the right decision

Costed and credible: Ed Miliband announcing Labour's plan to end the bedroom tax. [Picture: BBC]

Costed and credible: Ed Miliband announcing Labour’s plan to end the bedroom tax. [Picture: BBC]

The SPeye blog makes a good point.

Labour doesn’t need to justify scrapping the bedroom tax beyond stating the fact that it is an unjust measure designed to inflict misery upon the lowest-earning citizens of the UK while conferring no discernible benefit on the state.

Therefore Ed Miliband’s insistence on pandering to the Coa-lamity government’s narrative by trying to say where he would find the money to make the move possible may be seen as a mistake; there is no evidence that the bedroom tax has saved a single penny and every reason to believe that it will be a greater burden on the taxpayer in the long run.

Labour failed to attack the claim that the bedroom tax was saving money and we should question the wisdom of Miliband’s advisors in omitting this detail.

He should have pointed out that the Coalition government’s claim – that the tax negates differences between social rented accommodation and the private sector – is nonsense and we should question the wisdom of Miliband’s advisors in omitting this detail.

And he should have pointed out that the Coalition’s claim – that the bedroom tax and other changes would cut the cost of Housing Benefit by £2 billion – is also nonsense; that bill was £20.8 billion in 2010 when the claim was made so, with the current cost at more than £23 billion, the bill is now £5 billion above the Coalition’s target without showing any signs of coming down. We should question the wisdom of Miliband’s advisors in omitting this detail, also.

Or rather, he should question their wisdom.

There will be a time for that, but this isn’t it.

Those arguments don’t matter right now.

The fact is that he said the bedroom tax is unfair and a Labour government would end it – and he said it after a United Nations investigator made exactly the same claim. Labour has brought itself in line with UN findings and now the Coalition has been cast as a rogue government, acting against legally-binding international agreements which Labour would uphold.

But let’s just have a look at that mistake again. Labour said it would be able to axe the bedroom tax because it would save money by other means – ending a tax break for hedge funds and cutting short the new shares-for-rights scheme currently being thrust at company employees by the Treasury.

These are things that Labour would do anyway. The bedroom tax is just an excuse – in the same way that the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats put up an excuse for inflicting it on the poor, the sick and the disabled in the first place. It’s basically Miliband and the rest of the Labour Party offering the Conservatives and their little yellow friends a taste of their own medicine.

That gives them credibility.

And, if these measures really can boost public funds by £2 billion, then Labour will have found a way to do what the Coalition could not, because the bedroom tax was always likely to cost more money than it saved, for reasons well-discussed in the past.

Hedge funds are a rich seam of cash, ripe for mining by politicians because they aim to make money whether the market is moving up or down. The means by which they do this are extremely questionable and can artificially engineer collapses in company share prices, so it is right that a punitive tax regime should be imposed upon them.

That means that Labour’s plan really has been costed in a reasonable way. Costed and credible – just as Miliband claimed.

And the Treasury knows it. Look at its response – an unfounded, nonsense claim that Labour would tax pensions and borrow more money to fund the change.

Sajid Javid came out with this rubbish on the BBC’s news website. His credibility is already shaky and his claim has done nothing to improve that situation for him.

Business minister Matthew Hancock also got in the ring, but flailed wildly around with another nonsense claim that ending the bedroom tax would lead to higher taxes and higher mortgage rates.

He doesn’t matter. Javid doesn’t matter. A Department for Work and Pensions spokeswoman said something as well, but that doesn’t matter either because nobody believes a single word those people say.

The Guardian is currently running a poll asking members of the public to vote on whether the bedroom tax should be scrapped. A massive 91 per cent of voters want rid of it.

Labour has promised to get rid of it.

That is all that matters.

23 thoughts on “To the devil with the details – axing the bedroom tax is the right decision

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  2. gingerblokeblog

    This ConDem government has continued to attack the poor and vulnerable whilst allowing their rich friends to make money unchecked and largely untaxed.

    At every point that they are questioned, they will always come back with the same old chestnut that they had no choice to cut disability living benefits, or food for families due to the “mess” left by the previous government and that it is generally “Labours fault”.

    It is time that fair measures are put in place if Labour win the next election but at the same time they shouldn’t simply attack business and the rich because that will not only be counter productive but will also play into the hands of the Tories.

    Ed Miliband should and must, for the good of the party and the country, set up a fair tax regime where everybody pays their dues rather than be allowed to hide behind corporations.

      1. gingerblokeblog

        I feel that it is only fair that everyone in the country pays a similar proportion of tax, regardless of whether you are a low paid individual or a multi millionaire. Whilst hedge funds are often used by pension schemes they are set up to create wealth and so therefore should be liable to pay some form of “income tax”. I do however feel that pensions should then not be liable to any income tax at the point of receipt.

        Based upon this, I do agree with Ed Miliband’s plans. I am not his biggest fan but he is my party leader, therefore I applaud what he and the party has come up with.

        We should realise that tax is how we pay for the running of the country. Have a failing tax system and you end up creating a developing country.

  3. beastrabban

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    Mike here applauds Milliband’s declaration that if Labour comes to power, they will end the hated Bedroom Tax. He does criticise Milliband for some of the arguments he used, such as that he would inflict further cuts elsewhere. Mike also rightly dismisses the specious arguments used by the Tories against this by noted liars such as Sayid Javid. Regardless of the precise reasons used, Milliband has done the right thing at last. As for his comments about taxing hedge funds, it was actually the hedge fund managers who got us into this mess in the first place. If you want proof of this, read some of Private Eye’s analysis of them (Eyes passim ad nauseam, as the magazine itself says). Some of the panic expressed by Javid and the rest of the Coala-mity not doubt comes from the fact that they have links to, and are funded by, these highly dodgy financial companies. They’re looking at their paymasters and employers getting hit, which is something they believe should only happen to the plebs. So, go team Milliband!

  4. Leggy Mountbatten

    Finally some bravery from the Labour Party.


    Sajid Javid is one of the worst of the neo-Tories. This grinning, champing, piece of Conservative filth is as bad as the godawful Grant Shapps. I would be ashamed to be a member of any political party led by such scum.

  5. Colin M. Taylor

    As part of the Civil Service, HM Treasury is supposed to be impartial and above Party politics.It has become apparent that, far from the Treasury carrying out Government Policy, the Government is carrying out Treasury Policy.
    The Treasury, not Ministers, decides the level of Civil Service pay and conditions. If was the Treasury who insisted on ‘Market Testing’, ‘Internal Markets’ and ‘Performance Related Pay’ being inflicted on the other Departments, whilst resisting these ‘reforms’ for itself.
    I believe that there should be an inquiry into the workings of the Treasury and that it should , itself, be ‘reformed.’

    1. Mike Sivier

      I think you’re just seeing the influence of the current government – on ALL departments. They all seem to be releasing partisan press releases when they should be impartial.

  6. Nick

    it’s a pity the papers and ed the labour leader didn’t speak out over the welfare reform bill which has seen hundreds of lives lost

    and yet the bedroom tax causes an outrage now with only a few lives lost

    makes no sense that the sick and disabled will be persecuted for the rest of their lives but the bedroom tax is to be scrapped if labour get into power at the next election

  7. JBS

    Have a look at what the DWP Press Office Twitter account has been saying recently about the bedroom tax:

    “Removal of the spare room subsidy is a necessary reform to return fairness to housing benefit”


    “The taxpayer can no longer afford to pay for people to live in properties larger than they need.”

    Openly political positions from a government department that is supposed to be politically neutral.

    1. Nick

      anyone would think that we were talking about decent 3/4 housing
      the fact is that the vast majority of 3/4 bedroom housing stock in the uk is of very poor quality unless the housing tenants has maintained it themselves and spent a few thousands of pound on it over the years

      there are very few 1/2/ bedroom houses available and never have been we should cut the bull and scrap the housing tax

      This approach would be welcomed across the country and i recommend this motion to this house

      everyone in favour say “Aye”

      on the contrary Those who disagree with the motion say “Noe”

  8. Gavin MacMillan

    I hate to think what your disappointment is going to be like when/if Labour actually win the next election and return to power, and show themselves to be exactly what they were before – a party which still toes the neo-lib ideological line with regards economic management of the country. The results will be a bit of tinkering around the edges, where things have come unraveled the most.But the core works of the condems will remain untouched, indeed,will be built on with further economic policies guaranteed to boost their neo-lib credentials with their banker mates. And so the circus & gravy-train for their mates and their uber-rich masters will carry on rolling. Trebles all round for the lads, while the rest of us can think ourselves lucky if we can find space in a ditch to cower in…

      1. Leggy Mountbatten

        I’m afraid with people like Liam Byrne, Yvette Cooper and, yes, Ed Balls in the cabinet Gavin’s prediction will prove to be pretty spot on. These people hunger for power and will want to have red boxes to play with and Ministerial limousines for as long as possible; they will be less interested into transforming the country than being elected for a second (third, forth) term. It will be like Blair who wasted most of his first term in office adhering to Conservative spending plans and the broke manifesto pledges and personal promises left, right, and centre.

        But the thing is wouldn’t another five years of David Cameron, David Freud, Iain Duncan Smith et al be infinitely worse? As Labour is the only alternative to another five years ruled by the nastiest and most incompetent government in living memory surely it must be worth having a punt and giving Milband and Co., a go?

      2. Joanna May

        I think Gavin is right, what I am worried about is all the terrible policies that will cost too much money to reverse, after all isn’t that what the condemns aiming to do? They know they won’t get into power this time, and so if the killer problems they caused, take more than 5 years to put right, they will have a chance to finish what they started. That should worry us all!!

  9. Thomas M

    I don’t trust Labour, but they are the only ones that can throw out the Tories, as the TUSC has so few votes.

  10. derek evans

    I would like to say i didn’t know who was getting my vote but i knew conservatives wasn’t going to get it full stop i will never give them my vote as long as i live, if it’s right what Edd Milliband is saying he has got my vote for abolishing the bedroom tax.

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