- September 13, 2013
- Posted by: Carwyn Jones AM
- Category: Gazette Column
Many of you will have read about the bedroom tax that the UK government is introducing and so I thought this week that I’d focus on what I think is one of the most unjust policies introduced by any government since the War.
Strong words, you might say. After all, what exactly is the bedroom tax? Basically it means that anybody on housing benefit will lose some of that benefit if they live in a house that has a spare bedroom. You might think that sounds fair, but let’s look at what it actually means.
There are 1700 people in Bridgend at the moment who want to live somewhere smaller. They’re usually older people living on their own who want somewhere more manageable. The problem is that only 100 such properties become available every year. That means that at least 1600 people will either have to pay more or be evicted. All this through no fault of their own.
Consider some of the other people who’ll be hit:
People who have children but who live apart. It’s common for children to live with one parent and stay with another, particularly at weekends. The parent who has a spare bedroom to have the children to stay at weekends will now be penalised.
Foster carers who claim housing benefit. They will be hit because fostered children don’t count towards occupancy. If foster carers have more than one spare room which they use to house foster children, they’ll be hit.
Older single people who like to have a spare room so that grandchildren can stay will have to pay more.
Incredibly, this will hit couples with children. If you have a married couple who live in a three bedroomed house and have a boy and a girl under 10 then they will be judged to have a spare room because the boy and the girl will be expected to share. They will also have to pay more.
Remember that the majority of people who claim housing benefit actually work. They get housing benefit because their wages are so low. Why then should the UK government penalise people who work in low paid, insecure jobs and whose employers don’t pay a proper wage?
The answer’s easy. Somebody in the London bubble decided that as there are one bed flats available in London then it must be true elsewhere. That’s not true in Bridgend, nor in many rural areas of Wales where people may be forced out of their home villages to live in towns despite a lifetime of work.
This is what the UK government means when it says that we’re all in it together. For the millionaires in that government, most of whom inherited their money, it means targeting the worse off.
The people who caused our economic problems weren’t people on housing benefit, it was reckless bankers, whose bonuses have increased and who have had a tax cut. They get rewarded while the innocent get penalised.
So much for all being in it together.