It’s time to put a final end to the bleatings of SNP supporters, Tories, UKIP and anyone else who insists that Labour had anything to do with the creation of the hated Bedroom Tax. This blog article by Rob Gershon shows clearly that the Conservatives intended to restrict housing benefit according to size criteria at that time.
The applicable line is from a speech by David Trippier (then Conservative Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment) and was made in a speech on the Water Bill on March 21, 1989. He said: “We do not believe that full Exchequer subsidy should generally be available where a claimant is living in unduly large accommodation.”
He also said: “A tenant who has all or most of his rent met by housing benefit does not, obviously, have the same incentive to bargain with his landlord to keep the rent to a reasonable level as would be the case if he were paying it from his own pocket. We do not believe that the Exchequer, which provides up to 97 per cent direct subsidy on housing benefit, should be expected simply to underwrite any rent that the landlord demands. Therefore, it is essential to have an independent check on the rents being paid from the public purse to ensure that those are not significantly above market level—in other words, above the rents being paid by tenants who are not in receipt of benefit.
“Besides considering claimants’ rents, rent officers will also look at the size of their accommodation.”
One very interesting aspect is the following comment: “Local authorities have long had powers to limit benefit in such circumstances.” If this is true, then it seems to have been optional, with authorities either choosing not to use these powers (on grounds that this may cause undue hardship to the tenant?) or being unaware of them. The imposition of the Bedroom Tax legislation, in such circumstances, would be a matter of forcing local authorities to use these powers, against their better judgement.
Note also that he asserts the Exchequer should not be expected to support any rent demanded by landlords. This applies equally to private landlords and we can therefore conclude that any Conservative who attacks Labour for imposing the Local Housing Allowance rules on private tenants is a hypocrite; Tories introduced these concepts – that landlords should not be allowed to ‘rip off’ the state – and should support them. It’s one of those rare instances in which both parties may agree on a policy point (although for differing reasons, perhaps).
The full comment can also be read here, for those who desire further proof.
The article on ‘Welfare Reform’, with a Bedroom Tax flavour places an interesting emphasis on the role of freemasonry in the creation of the Bedroom Tax – but that is a matter for its author, and not an issue for us at this time. It states: “Contemporary Members of Parliament vie to offload responsibility for the bedroom tax, with coalition MPs wrongly suggesting that the previous government brought it in for Private Tenants. Some commentators wrongly believe that the policy was trialled in 2001, though this is also a grand falsehood.” [Bolding mine.]
It continues: “Behind the apron of respectability, the evolution of this policy has come to be manipulated to blame social housing tenants for the rising rents in that sector, and to suggest that the ever-rising rents of recipients of Housing Benefit in the private rented sector are somehow the fault of tenants. It is tenants, ultimately who are paying the financial price for these prejudices, and thirty years of failed housing policy.
“And so, finally, to the notion that the Labour Government piloted the Bedroom Tax in 2001. It doesn’t seem to matter to those that share it, who stem from the Conservative, Liberal Democrat, SNP and UKIP parties, that no pilot ever took place, and that no such policy was ever introduced.”
Those are the facts of the matter.
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