Is this the first national expression of Ed Miliband’s devolved, community focused Labour Party?

March 16, 2013 12:13 pm

Today, more than 50 self-organised protests against the government are taking place the length and breadth of the land. Most of them have been organised without the say-so of Labour HQ. Yet the activity has the wholehearted support of many of our leading MPs. So this weekend could be a milestone crossed: the first national expression of Ed Miliband’s devolved, community focused Labour Party.

But how has this self-organised, locally focused, digital campaign actually happened?

Firstly, and most importantly it’s down to passion and commitment. A tiny band of members with passion for a cause have shown what can be done. Dr Eoin Clarke and his colleagues at Labour Left have produced materials for members on the ground who seek to register their opposition to Cameron’s ill-conceived bedroom tax. Without them providing homemade petitions, posters and model Facebook pages, the events would not be taking place.

Before the days of social media, Eoin Clarke and his team could not possibly have had the time and logistical support to organise members into such a complex set of local campaigns. But social media allows groups to form really quickly without the need for a single person to book rooms, print posters, stuff mailings and arrange transport. Now you can do all of that online. And that’s what the team have provided: a Facebook page for every protest. Simple but clever.

But to be able to do this, the team needed one additional distinguishing ingredient: A bold clear line from the top of the party. And we’ve had that on the bedroom tax. Ed Miliband and Liam Byrne have made our opposition to this unfair tax central to their message.

A mention must be given to the Sunday People, who themselves have leapt into the digital age with a brilliant humorous twitter feed, Google maps and support for the campaign on the ground with high quality branded materials.

The tax was introduced to solve under-occupancy in council housing but the there are not enough smaller homes to make this happen. In the West Midlands 60,000 families will be affected. Everyone wants to see sensible welfare reform but the bedroom tax is not the answer.

Over 5 billion is lost through tax evasion every year illustrating that there are other less heartless areas where money could be saved. But David Cameron has no idea the impact that this change will have on ordinary people, no conception of the difference that £700 less a year will make to many on the edge scraping by.

Just last week the OBR rebuked David Cameron for misrepresenting their position on the economy it seems misconstruing the facts is an unfortunate habit the Prime Minister seems to have fallen into. At PMQs he stated,

‘Pensioners are exempt, people with severely disabled children are exempt and people who need round-the-clock care are exempt.’ This is not the case according to the National Housing Federation. Iain Duncan Smith’s concessions this week will just exempt foster families and those in the armed forces. Two thirds of families affected are home to someone with a disability.

The response to the campaign on the ground has been positive; people are angry and outraged and want to fight back so good luck wherever you are out protesting and remember to send your photos to BedroomTax@Hotmail.com

Stephanie Peacock represents the West Midlands on the National Policy Forum

  • AlanGiles

    …Or it could just be that the public remember that old phrase “if you want anything done, do it yourself”, and get on with it, rather than wait for “permission” from the political class.

    It certainly looks as if the sick and disabled and their supporters will have to do this in the case of welfare, because Labour – especially Byrne – are none to keen to tackle the government on that, except in areas deemed “acceptable” by the press, (i.e. the bedroom tax).

    Yet again, however, Labour get the opportunity to pretend it’s all their own idea.

    • Dave Postles

      Precisely.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001102865655 John Ruddy

      Its a pity you made these comments without taking the time to find out more about how these protests came about. Eoin Clarke has been working tirelessly to organise these all over the country, engaging with local groups to orchestrate this mass demonstration. Its not about Labour “pretending its all their own idea” – presumably using your world view, Labour cannot think of anything popular, because then they would be pretending it was their idea?

      • AlanGiles

        Why then, don’t they take on UNPOPULAR, but JUST causes?. Especially on welfare?. Byrne has never expressed regret for Labour’s part in Freud. has he?. Indeed, he goes on about how much of it he “approves” of. Freud has caused, and is causing, a great deal of misery to some of the most disadvantaged people in society. And Labour started it: you must feel so proud of yourselves.

        They just want to pretend only “good” comes from them, even if it means adopting some other parties ideas (e.g. The Mansion Tax). I am sure it plays well to the party toadies, but forgive the rest of us if we are more cynical.
        There’s one born every minute, John.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001102865655 John Ruddy

          If you want to talk about Freud – how about you take 2 minutes to find out why he left Labour and went across to the Tories.

          Answer: It was because the then Labour PM blocked his reforms from being implemented.

          • AlanGiles

            Absolute rubbish. What a pathetic excuse. Purnell pushed the bill through at the same time as Freud, ever the political whore, was collecting his “present” from the Conservatives. A peerage, which Brown and Jimbo had forgotten to offer him.

            Before you defend your precious government, you need to make sure of your facts. In fact, Purnell is on record as saying he would like to have gone further!. That act by those little guttersnipes were what finished Labour for me.

  • http://twitter.com/waterwards dave stone

    Yesterday in the Guardian newspaper Polly Toynbee reported that Liam Byrne would be speaking at the Birmingham anti-bedroom tax protest. This surprised me. I’ve always assumed that, as a founder of Progress, Comrade Liam would share the concerns of Comrade Rob Marchant and consequently avoid appearing at such events – fearful that voters may be reminded of “the unhappy Seventies” *.

    However, Comrade Liam has shown no such caution and, if he did speak at the Birmingham protest, he should be congratulated for doing the right thing. Let’s hope Progress comrades supported him on the protest and let’s hope, if they haven’t already done so, they get themselves a banner and brandish it proudly at future protests.

    * http://thecentreleft.blogspot.com/2012/07/soothing-factional-politics-within.html#more

    • AlanGiles

      Good morning Dave. I always feel that a great big question mark hangs over Byrne. Before he commits himself to doing the proper thing, he weighs up how good it will make him look. The shilly-shallying about the welfare reform bill suggests that – he is so careful to say that he “agrees with three quarters of it”, takes pains not to be seen or heard condeming things like the idea of stopping retrospective claims for those people who have been ill-served by the “reforms”, and continuing the Tories and New Labour theme of people playing the system (not that he has ever been guilty of such a thing with his expenses), and makes a damn great noise about the Bedroom Tax because it is universally unpopular. He has nothing to lose, and gives him a cheap bit of kudos.

      At best this article comes over as crafty – the Labour party giving tacit approval of these independent protests, with a nudge and a wink here, a discreet silence elsewhere. But the message being given out is – if it was a good protest/idea then, of course it was our idea, if it is not so wholesome in their eyes they can say they had nothing to do with the idea.

      If the Labour party are in favour of something – however much it might upset Blairites and the tabloids they should say so openly. This tactic merely reinforces the impression many of us have that Labour has a pusillanimous top table, who want to have their cake and eat it.

    • AlanGiles

      Good morning Dave. I always feel that a great big question mark hangs over Byrne. Before he commits himself to doing the proper thing, he weighs up how good it will make him look. The shilly-shallying about the welfare reform bill suggests that – he is so careful to say that he “agrees with three quarters of it”, takes pains not to be seen or heard condeming things like the idea of stopping retrospective claims for those people who have been ill-served by the “reforms”, and continuing the Tories and New Labour theme of people playing the system (not that he has ever been guilty of such a thing with his expenses), and makes a damn great noise about the Bedroom Tax because it is universally unpopular. He has nothing to lose, and gives him a cheap bit of kudos.

      At best this article comes over as crafty – the Labour party giving tacit approval of these independent protests, with a nudge and a wink here, a discreet silence elsewhere. But the message being given out is – if it was a good protest/idea then, of course it was our idea, if it is not so wholesome in their eyes they can say they had nothing to do with the idea.

      If the Labour party are in favour of something – however much it might upset Blairites and the tabloids they should say so openly. This tactic merely reinforces the impression many of us have that Labour has a pusillanimous top table, who want to have their cake and eat it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001102865655 John Ruddy

        Do you actually just decide to make stuff up before posting rubbish like this?

        • AlanGiles

          We are all entitled to our opinion, Mr Ruddy. You think I post rubbish. I think you post sycophantic rubbish, but, I am sure, like me, you are sincere in what you write.

          I find a lack of moral fibre in Labour today, and this article typifies it: if the demonstration is a “good” one for “good” reasons (bedroom tax) the party will support it, and imply they were behind it. If it is something that might upset, Middle England/Squeezed Middle or News International, then they will keep quiet

          When Byrne starts making a fraction oif the noise about the shocking way the sick and disabled are treated, by ATOS by the Coalition and by the 2007/10 Labour government, as he does going on about the B.T, I will be impressed. I regard him at present as a reluctant shadow minister who would sooner be a Mayor. Fair enough, but his lack of backbone sickens me.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001102865655 John Ruddy

            Thats because Laboru is a political party, whose aim is to get elected, not a protest group that wants to maintain ideological purity.

            As for upsetting News International, I think you must have missed the last couple of years, you know where the ones where Ed criticised Murdoch, and supported Leveson 100%?

          • AlanGiles

            John. It is hardly a “protest group” to speak up for people who are being badly treated, and this applies to many sick and disabled people who have been victimized by both the previous Labour and the present Coalition governments, courtesy ATOS.

            ‘I’m sorry, but people like you with your selective memories really annoy me. If it had been Cameron who tried to pass off Freud as a “welfare expert” back in 2006 (of course it was Blair) or Cameron or Duncan-Smith who had railroaded the 2008 welfare reform bill through Parliament (Purnell of course) your sort would have been up in arms, pointing out that the only area of expertise Freud had was in investment banking. But because it was a “Labour” government, many of you (including backbench Labour MPs) meekly hushed their mouths.

            As for News International, Miliband only jumped after the public had been outraged by the Dowler affair, so as ever he was making sure he was hitting an easy target.

            Ed Miliband only follows, he doesn’t lead, which might explain why, with an increasingly unpopular government, his personal rating remains very low.

            Not that there is anybody much better amongst the kingdom of pygmies. At least he was personally honest, unlike his brother back in 2009.

          • aracataca

            If it is something that might upset, Middle England/Squeezed Middle or News International, then they will keep quiet……

            There you go John the NEC and the Shadow Cabinet regularly discuss not supporting campaigns that might upset News International (this might explain why EM has stuck his neck out on insisting on the full implementation of Leveson)…only in secret mind, so it doesn’t get out to the general public and the only person who knows all this is……..er, Alan Giles.
            It’s bordering on the deranged John. However, pleased to see someone else is challenging AG’s garbage.

          • AlanGiles

            He might get round to your “mystic Meg” garbage in the end Bill, though I suspect not – you both worship at the same shrines and lick the same boots.

            With some of the stuff you daub on here you are the very last person to talk about “garbage” – your “my party right or wrong” nonsense.

          • rekrab

            Maybe John should concentrate a bit more on why Angus South and North return SNP MSP’s and Angus also returns an SNP MP?,Jeez!

        • rekrab

          Where is the proof in the pudding John? when has Byrne said he will repeal any bedroom tax that is passed through? John your own R.M.T. union doesn’t hold it’s breath much over any said by the likes of Byrne,

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001102865655 John Ruddy

            My RMT ? Firstly, I dont belong to RMT (not working in Transport doesnt even allow me to be a member) and secondly, RMT isnt even affiliated with Labour, so what relevance has that to anything?

          • rekrab

            “Originally from Devon, John Ruddy now lives in Angus. He was an agent for Scottish Labour at the Holyrood election and is a Unison shop steward.” sorry John should have read your articles more carefully, so it’s unison and I can’t see Prentice given Byrne a nod? can you?

          • rekrab

            “Originally from Devon, John Ruddy now lives in Angus. He was an agent for Scottish Labour at the Holyrood election and is a Unison shop steward.” sorry John should have read your articles more carefully, so it’s unison and I can’t see Prentice given Byrne a nod? can you?

        • aracataca

          Sometimes the arguments descend into total idiocy – such as his suggestion that the reason why people voted Fib Dem rather than Labour in the Easteigh by-election was because Labour’s policies were too similar to those of the coalition,

          • AlanGiles

            Another example of your garbage, Mr O’Connor. The reason people voted LibDem, as I have now tried to inform your poor befuddled mind several times now, is that, in the absence of a party offering something different (except those who voted for UKIP) was that they looked at Labour, Conservative and LibDem and decided they might as well stick with the devil they knew. They thought Labour promised so much, they only managed to get 4088 people to vote for them and they came fourth.

            It will no doubt bring forth another of your silly little responses, but you really do need to question why, with such a crass government and PM, Miliband’s leadership stays quite poor in opinion polls. Can it be that all of us who don’t share your enthusiasm for ersatz New Labour is wrong, and only you and Ruddy are right?. There are many doubting Thomas’s.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001102865655 John Ruddy

      Indeed Byrne did speak at the protest, and has been at the forefront of a big Labour campaign on this – the problem is the mainstream media has not really been picking up on this.

  • Open_Palm

    Sorry to be pedantic but the exemptions do not apply to all foster parents, just those who foster one child. Foster parents who have two or three bedrooms for fostered children are will still need to apply to the discretionary housing fund for support with their housing costs.

    https://www.fostering.net/news/2013/bedroom-tax-campaign-continues#.UUMW25wqecF

  • Monkey_Bach

    I think the following article may well be more representative of the future direction of Ed Miliband’s Labour Party:

    Is Labour planning to betray its core supporters by siding with Iain Duncan Smith?

    As it is the presence of Liam Byrne makes it nigh on impossible for me to vote Labour but if the Party actually sides with Iain Duncan Smith (no doubt at the behest of Byrne) and shows such utter contempt for the judiciary, rule of law, and suffering of thousands who have been served rough justice by the worst Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, possible or imaginable, it will make voting Labour at the next general election completely impossible for every monkey with a conscience and many a human too.

    Cowardice, duplicity, and dishonesty of this magnitude could not be forgiven or forgotten.

    I really hope that the Guardian article is misleading.

    Eeek.

  • Monkey_Bach

    I think the following article may well be more representative of the future direction of Ed Miliband’s Labour Party:

    Is Labour planning to betray its core supporters by siding with Iain Duncan Smith?

    If this happens for me it will making voting for the Labour Party impossible.

    Eeek.

  • Monkey_Bach

    I think the following article may well be more representative of the future direction of Ed Miliband’s Labour Party:

    Is Labour planning to betray its core supporters by siding with Iain Duncan Smith?

    As it is the presence of Liam Byrne makes it nigh on impossible for me to vote Labour but if the Party actually sides with Iain Duncan Smith (no doubt at the behest of Byrne) and shows such utter contempt for the judiciary, rule of law, and suffering of thousands who have been served rough justice by the worst Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, possible or imaginable, it will make voting Labour at the next general election completely impossible for every monkey with a conscience and many a human too.

    Cowardice, duplicity, and dishonesty of this magnitude could not be forgiven or forgotten.

    I really hope that the Guardian article is misleading.

    Eeek.

  • Monkey_Bach

    I think the following article may well be more representative of the future direction of Ed Miliband’s Labour Party:

    Is Labour planning to betray its core supporters by siding with Iain Duncan Smith?

    As it is the presence of Liam Byrne makes it nigh on impossible for me to vote Labour but if the Party actually sides with Iain Duncan Smith (no doubt at the behest of Byrne) and shows such utter contempt for the judiciary, rule of law, and suffering of thousands who have been served rough justice by the worst Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, possible or imaginable, it will make voting Labour at the next general election completely impossible for every monkey with a conscience and many a human too.

    Cowardice, duplicity, and dishonesty of this magnitude could not be forgiven or forgotten.

    I really hope that the Guardian article is misleading.

    Eeek.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001102865655 John Ruddy

      I sometimes wonder if a course in media studies is needed before anyone gets involved in politics. If you read the article, there is no quote from anyone in Labour – not even an unnamed source.

      The attributation is “The Guardian understands”…. which probably means in this case the DWP told the Guardian “Oh yes, Labour is backing us on this, we’re just negotiating the final details”.

      All in all its very poor journalism, as they didnt even bother going to check this with Labour – otherwise there would be a quote from them in the article. The reason they didnt bother? because they KNEW they’d get a denial, or at least soemthing which would turn this into a complete non-story!!!

      Remember the Guardian supported the Lib Dems at the last election, and as a paper still supports them – and consequently the Coalition Government. If it helps to destabilise Labour a bit by printing crap like this, they will.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001116515833 Michael Carey

        … Labour are voting through the timetable, i.e., helping it to be rushed through. That is for certain. Whether they’ll vote for it in the end they won’t say yet. That is from the mouth of Liam Byrne himself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xT-3aMyjU90

        • http://twitter.com/waterwards dave stone

          Comrade Liam standing before a red flag emblazoned with the hammer and sickle!

          Comrade Marchant will be wanting to book him an appointment in Room 101.

          • AlanGiles

            Poor old Byrne looks a bit the worse for wear in this photo – perhaps he had been out with Eric Joyce?. Tired and emotional….. as a newt :-)

        • Monkey_Bach

          How could a man of Byrne’s character have ever risen to the top of the Labour Party’s hierarchy? If Labour can’t find better leaders than Byrne what hope is there? Eeek.

      • Monkey_Bach

        We’ll see next Tuesday won’t we, Mr. Ruddy? Whether you or the Guardian are correct in respect to Labour supporting Iain Duncan Smith. Eeek.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001116515833 Michael Carey

    What did it have to do with the Labour hierarchy? Labour support a bedroom tax, just not this one (http://newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-politics/6918-bedroom-tax-needed-say-labour-but-coalition-admits-scotland-disproportionately-affected). And the disgracefully under-discussed emergency batter-those-on-workfare bill, supported and fast tracked through with Labour’s help, shows that Byrne and his ilk don’t give a toss.

    Eoin Clarke and his group may have achieved a lot, but it was his achievement and certainly not Byrne’s or Miliband’s.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001102865655 John Ruddy

      If you knew anything about Eoin, you would realise how wrong you are. And a quote from the laughably named NewsNet Scotland proves it. Factual, it aint.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001116515833 Michael Carey

        Well then watch the video contained in the link where Helen Goodman says that Labour merely want a more focused bedroom tax applying to those who don’t want to be forced into downsizing, which is exactly what the article says. Not difficult John.

        And how was I wrong about Eoin Clarke?

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001102865655 John Ruddy

          You mean you listen to stuff from people who arnt making decisions on the matter? Its like when the Press take some crackpot thing that Ken Livingstone says and tries to make out its party policy.

          Or is twisting facts to suit an argument only wrong if its done by right wingers?

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001116515833 Michael Carey

            She’s in the Shadow cabinet, I assume her word carries more weight than yours concerning party policy.

          • reformist lickspittle

            Why are these comments dominated by pseudo-left nihilists – who are consumed by seething, unreasoning hate for the Labour party??

            Time for the Sparts to put back in their box, IMO.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

            No, she isn’t. She is a junior shadow CM&S minister. Compare what she said to what was said by others and see which one is the rogue statement. I think she was confused more than anything. There has always been the option to downsize

      • AlanGiles

        If only we were all as clever as you!

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001102865655 John Ruddy

          Its not about being clever – its about doing a tiny tiny bit of research before posting a load of rubbish. Eoin has a website of his own which is quite well known – if you took a couple of minutes to look at it you would see what I mean.

          However, it seems you’d much prefer to misrepresent the facts to make your own twisted attack at Labour.

          Makes you wonder why you seem to spend some much time on here, as you despise us all so much.

          • AlanGiles

            I despise tribalist lickspittles who are prepared to turn a blind eye to all Labour’s past (and present) faults, Mr Ruddy. Of course you don’t have to read my “rubbish”. I merely respond to yours as a courtesy.

  • TomFairfax

    Whilst the idea of letting local groups just get on with it without the heavy, restraining and cautious hand of central control is to be applauded I wonder if we should see a more regular update of articles at the weekend.

    For instance;

    Lord Ashcroft is reportedly very critical of George Osborne in today’s Mail. Not a typical left leaning publication.

    Dave’s wondrous speech invoking Churchill yesterday whilst at the same time denouncing the type of left wing history taught in schools. The type of history written by someone like err, Winston Churchill. Oh dear, ‘F’ grade for Dave.

    It was also noticeable that he was claiming credit for everything reasonably successful over the last few years except for Chelsea’s champions league triumph under his premiership. Regardless of whether any part of government, central or otherwise had any impact on the various successes claimed, or indeed how long it took to achieve these things. Rather like those Soviet claims for pcitizens longevity when clearly they’d have spent the majority of their lives under the Czars.

    Then we have the report that Govie’s free schools are more likely to be under performing, whilst more costly than the rest of the state sector. Another passable idea skewered by a desperate politician’s ego on order to bypass any quality control just to get the numbers up.

    So I’ll applaud what we’re doing as described in this article, but don’t forget to offer alternatives to the red faces clowns running the government just now, and don’t forget an opposition is there to hold a government to account, else be thought to be conniving at the same things. As seems the fear of many commentators on this thread. Because their help will be needed on the streets in the next two years.

  • Quiet_Sceptic

    I’m not familiar with the intricacies of the housing benefit system and I’m left wondering what is the current situation for a family, living in social housing, in receipt of housing benefit, who because of passing of time, children flying the nest etc, are living in a house significantly larger than they require?

    For example, if they were in receipt of full housing benefit for a large family home, once the children have left does their housing benefit payment remain unchanged? Is there any existing mechanism (or sanction) that provides an incentive to move to a more appropriately sized home?

    • Monkey_Bach

      The idea behind the “Bedroom Tax” was never to free up housing to enable local authorities to use it better, i.e., accommodate more people less crowdedly. The government’s own impact assessment predicted that the actual number of people who will actually “downsize” will be negligible, basically because there will be nowhere locally that they can “downsize” to, and that the overwhelming majority of tenants will simply absorb cuts in their housing benefit by making up the shortfall from low wages or from other benefit entitlements impoverishing themselves in the process. The “Bedroom Tax” is a really pernicious and truly awful change to make to social security entitlements, especially as implemented, and Cameron will be held to account for this and all of his other many cruelties at some point in the future.

      Eeek.

      • Quiet_Sceptic

        That doesn’t answer the question, what I’d hoped to find out was whether the bedroom tax was in addition to existing measures that adjust housing benefit entitlement to social housing need or whether there was no existing process in place.

        • jaime taurosangastre candelas

          It’s a very good question, and I am afraid I cannot help with an answer. But, it should be hoped that as a point of principle, housing benefit for every recipient is actively managed so that when they don’t need quite so much, it is withdrawn. This could be a monthly justification, certainly annually when the rent is set and the recipients explain their circumstances to qualify to continue to receive public monies.

          Otherwise, it is nothing more than free money, effectively for life, and the burden on the taxpayer does not count.

          • AlanGiles

            Changes of circumstances apropos entitlement to HB have to be reported and if they are not, once discovered, the claimant could be prosecuted for making a false claim (unlike MPs they are not forgiven “misunderstandings” like claiming for non existant cleaners, or pretending you live with mum and dad asPurnell and McNulty famously did).

            In answer to QS original question, some local authorities offer a financial incentive to downsize their home. Usually somewhere about £250 per room given up, but of course, a lot of people live in 2 or 3 bedroomed houses alone, because of the paucity of single bedroom accomodation. Unlike in Duncan-Smith’s fantasy world, you can’t produce lots of small properties out of thin air. Of course, Smith lives in a mansion, so I don’t suppose he knows what goes on outside.

          • http://twitter.com/waterwards dave stone

            “you can’t produce lots of small properties out of thin air.”

            Of course.

            I know people who do want to down-size but are unable to do so because there is nowhere for them to go – there are no smaller properties available.

            This Tory measure is a device designed to punish the less well off simply because they are less well off – as was pointed out by Liam Byrne, it will eventually cost more than it will save.

            Should you wonder at the vindictiveness of those who are implementing this policy and ask what sort of people can they be – here’s the answer: a Tory cabinet consisting mostly of multi-millionaires*. They have no understanding of ordinary people nor of how ordinary people live.

            http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/election/article-1280554/The-coalition-millionaires-23-29-member-new-cabinet-worth-1m–Lib-Dems-just-wealthy-Tories.html

            PS – Next time there’s a day of protests let’s hope Labour List pulls its finger out and publicises dates and locations before the event.

        • Monkey_Bach

          People can’t be “encouraged” to move to smaller properties when there are no smaller properties suitable for them to move to. As far as social tenants go this has ALWAYS been the case which is why housing problems have never been soluble by local authorities simply by playing switcheroo with their housing stock.

          A sixty year old widow is not going to “downsize” to a smaller property tens or even hundreds of miles away from her current home, forced to live out the rest of her life from that point on alone, permanently separated from her friends, family, support and social network that has developed organically over decades. A strongly rooted person like this will strongly resist severing every connection to an area and people where and with whom they have lived their lives and been intimate with for decades: such a person will undoubtedly try to stay in their home and make up any cut in housing benefit using money that should be spent on essentials like food and heating. The government ALWAYS knew that this would be the case for the majority of those affected and yet persists in trying to sell this horrendously cruel policy by pretending that it increases “fairness” (by levelling down and making life as insecure and awful for social tenants as it is for private tenants, rather than improving the lot private renters which should have been the case) and will reduce council house waiting lists by driving out or evicting under-occupiers in order to free up properties for larger families (which they knew in advance would happen only marginally). As with so much that Cameron says this is utter balderdash not to say bare faced lies. Here’s a link to a Sue Marsh article about the reality of the bedroom tax which spells out the perversity and cruelty of the policy from a personal perspective.

          http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/the-human-story-behind-bedroom-tax.html

          In passing let’s not forget that Cameron and his crew have planned to strip Housing Benefit from most under 25 year olds (which idea was blocked, thankfully, by the Liberal Democrats) an extraordinarily heartless and brutal thing to suggest during a time of increasing homelessness. It makes you wonder just how far the Conservatives would pursue such a pernicious agenda if they ever secured a majority when they behave like remorseless psychopaths in coalition.

          Eeek.

          • Quiet_Sceptic

            For me it’s a question of what’s reasonable, I’d agree that cutting housing benefit / bedroom tax when no smaller homes are available is unfair. I’d also agree that the failure to recognise where there is genuine and legitimate need for additional bedrooms (disability, illness, mental health problems, foster kids etc) is also unfair and unreasonable.

            That said though, I also think it is unfair to expect society to pay for people to live in houses far bigger than they require but the system for making those adjustments must be more compassionate than the bedroom tax.

          • Monkey_Bach

            The only plausible thing to do in the long term is to build hundreds of thousands of units of social housing of all sizes (one, two, three or more bedrooms) on a countrywide basis that people on low or no wages can afford to rent. The private sector will not do this not even if privately funded properties can be rented out at 80% of the local market rent for such housing. (The mega-idiot Grant Shapps who thought this one up seemed not to have realised that at 80% market rent prospective tenants on modest incomes will not be able to afford such housing because his colleague David Freud stipulated that benefit claimants can only rent properties in the bottom 30th percentile, locally.) A massive building programme in respect to social housing should have been done in the eighties and nineties, when cheap money was available and it would have been affordable, before land, labour, and house price inflation rocketed to infeasible levels. The blame for this shameful inaction and neglect, especially as promises and assurance to the contrary had been given to the contrary, must be laid at the doors of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. After Iraq this was New Labour’s shabbiest and greatest failure.

            Simply bludgeoning the poorest of poor people from their homes via the Bedroom Tax, like crofters from their cottages during a Highland Clearance, will solve nothing and only cause the most awful suffering to hard pressed people who are powerless to do anything to improve their circumstances. No savings will be made or much underoccupied property redistributed.

            It is cruelty for cruelties sake.

            Eeek.

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