Sometimes PMQs provides the opportunity to bring to the public’s attention a story that they might otherwise have missed. Hopefully today was one of those days.
A victim of domestic violence – for her own safety, she’s known only as A – is taking the government to court. The reason? Because she’s being hit by the Bedroom Tax.
That may not seem particularly newsworthy, especially after so many have been hit by this pernicious assault on their homes. But A’s case is particularly shocking. The “spare room” that the government want to penalise her for having is a specially adapted “Panic Room”. It’s there to provide a safe space for her and her child if her abusive ex-partner – who has raped and assaulted her – tries to cause her further harm.
It has been specially adapted as a safe and secure space by the police.
And yet the government want to hit her with the Bedroom Tax, because – as far as they’re concerned – she’s not making full use of her “spare” room.
Unfathomably, Iain Duncan Smith is defending the DWP and the government – having argued (without success) at a hearing in June that it should be dismissed.
Today Ed Miliband rose in the chamber to challenge David Cameron on this grotesque case – the cherry on top of the disgusting Bedroom Tax cake. And what did the Prime Minister do? He defended the decision. He claimed that money had been made available for such cases.
And yet if that’s the case why is A having to go to court to defend her own home? To defend her own safety? To defend her child?
This government are willing – way beyond the point where any rational person has departed from their argument – to argue in favour of the Bedroom Tax. The lives ruined and the families crushed under the weight of this draconian legislation are collateral damage. And all because they’re unwilling to accept that there simply aren’t enough affordable homes in the UK – or do anything about this fact.
And how did Iain Duncan Smith, the villain (quite literally, a villain) of this piece react to Miliband’s questioning? According to Labour MP Fiona O’Donnell, the response of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions was to laugh.
As Ed Miliband spelled out the horrendous case – which this government are responsible for, caused and defends – of a woman trying to stay safe from her abusive, rapist ex-partner, Iain Duncan Smith laughed.
If you were trying to sum up the ills of this government in one simple act, that laughter might just be it…