Obedience to government gone mad

The BBC website has this headline:

Labour ‘would axe spare room subsidy’ says Jackie Baillie

That logically means a Labour government would persist in the iniquitous policy of fining tenants for their accommodation.

In fact, as the story seems to say, the exact opposite is the case. A Labour government would recognise the tax on a spare room is vicious and distorts how we run social housing in all kinds of ways:

A UK Labour government would abolish the spare room subsidy, the party’s Scottish welfare spokeswoman has said.

Jackie Baillie told BBC Radio Scotland an announcement on the issue would be made soon.

Labour’s policy on cuts to housing benefit for people with unused spare rooms has not yet been clearly set out.

Ms Baillie’s comments came ahead of two rallies in Glasgow against the new subsidy, which critics have labelled the “bedroom tax”.

Speaking on the Good Morning Scotland programme, she said: “We are very clear. Labour rejected this approach when it was put to them in government, for social landlords. We have campaigned for its abolition.

“Yes we will abolish it. My understanding is that you can expect an announcement relatively soon.”

Suddenly we see that the BBC, in accepting the Grant Shapps spin for the headline, has generated a total hames of any meaning.

The Northern Drift

What interest Malcolm is how even the most conservative (and you can have that with or with out a capital “C”) media are recognising just how bad an imposition the bedroom tax is.

Twice in the last few days, the Yorkshire Post (and they don’t come much more conservative than that) has had a bite out of the tax.

The first Malcolm saw was a screaming headline:

Bedroom tax ‘will tear rural societies apart’

The explanation of that make considerable sense:

The desperate shortage of affordable housing in villages and hamlets throughout Yorkshire and rural England means low-paid workers and families will be forced to uproot from their communities and move many miles to find what the Government now deems to be appropriate-sized homes, according to Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE).

Housing experts, charity bosses and senior backbench MPs in Yorkshire all backed the report, and called on the Government to offer an exemption for people living rural areas from the controversial withdrawal of what Ministers term the “spare room subsidy”.

“The ‘bedroom tax’ takes no account of the challenges rural tenants face,” said ACRE chief executive Janice Banks. “It is yet another example of the ‘rural penalty’ paid by countryside communities.”

That decodes into something far, far worse than any Tory propagandist has been prepared to admit. Even if the bedroom tax could work in Hackney, it simply cannot do so in Hampsthwaite, Hebden or Horsehouse. If the aim is to price the tenant out of oversized accommodation, where else is there nearby for them to go? The small flat or one-up, one-down cottage no longer exists — and where it does, it probably sports a second-homer’s Volvo or Range Rover at weekends.

Back to the Yorkshire Post, and we find a later story, which refers to the urban tenant’s problems:

Families affected by the so-called “bedroom tax” and other welfare reforms could be forced to wait more than 10 years for a suitable home, a council has warned.

The same Yorkshire authority, which has to slash £48m from its budget over the next two years, is also facing a potential shortfall in rentpayments of £2.8m a year as the true impact of austerity and the Government’s welfare reforms is laid bare.

Of those tenants not previously in arrears prior to the introduction of the bedroom tax, or under-occupancy penalty – which sees cuts to housing benefit for tenants deemed to have spare rooms – less than half (45 per cent) in Hull, have paid the 14 to 25 per cent contribution they have lost.

The Labour-led city council – which has now received more than 53,000 calls to a benefits advice hotline set up in April – is also warning of increased homelessness and says that even basic services may be cut or disappear all together.

About 4,500 working age tenants in the city are affected by the bedroom tax, while 3,000 households live in overcrowded council accommodation, and 2,600 are “under-occupying” and require a one-bedroom property.

A different context, but essentially the same story: whence goes the tenant penalised for that extra room? We simply have not, and do not build the required homes. The speculative builder provides for the aspiring family — which means a surplus of three-bedders for sale in burgeoning new estates. The dispossessed (and often elderly) tenants would need property close to amenities, transport and their roots — which amounts to the home they have occupied for years, even decades.

Rabid lunacy

Lest anyone feel the Yorkshire Post has gained a grasp on realities, there’s always its frothing commentator, Bill Carmichael (the clothed-capped Mini-Me of Littlejohn) to reassure the saloon-bar closet fascist:

We are well into September now and the silly season should be over, but some news organisations are still running daft stories that normally only see the light of day in the dog days of August.

Take the front page splash in the left-wing Guardian this week about a UN inspector who has demanded our government scrap the so-called “bedroom tax” because it infringes the human rights of tenants.

This was deemed more important than the threat of World War III in the Middle East, or the meltdown of Barack Obama’s credibility in the US, or the TUC conference at home.

The BBC’s flagship Today programme, which does little more these days than read out stories from the Guardian, repeated the tale almost word for word.

So who is this UN special rapporteur on housing who has made these devastating criticisms? Step forward Raquel Rolnik, an academic and former housing minister from Brazil and a leading member of the far left Workers’ Party, which allies itself to the brutal communist dictatorship in Cuba.

How many clichés, political and journalistic, there? Let me count the daze!


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Filed under broken society, Conservative family values, Conservative Party policy., politics, prejudice, Tories., working class, Yorkshire

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