There are the usual horror stories circulating about the Government changes which take effect in a couple of weeks for limits on bedroom allowances for those living in Social Housing. The Labour Party call it the ‘Bedroom Tax’. There are three fundamental points which they won’t tell you about the changes.
1)The ‘Bedroom Tax’ was initially introduced for the Private Rented Sector back in 2008 by... Yes, you guessed it, the Labour Government. The only difference was back then they didn’t call it the ‘Bedroom Tax’ they called it the ‘Local Housing Allowance Bedroom Requirement’
2)The Government has set aside an additional £50m for Local Councils to determine who should be exempt. In Calderdale’s case this amounts to just under £400,000. Whether it is for those who need an extra room with a disability or carer, anybody who feels they have a need can apply - for a short term or long term need.
3)Several local Labour Councillors and indeed the local Labour MP are scaremongering pensioners by saying that Pensioners will be affected. This is plain NOT true as Pensioners are exempt.
Let me relay some of the fears around how many people will be affected by the changes in Calderdale. Pennine Housing 2000, who is Calderdale’s largest Social Landlord recently issued the following figures;
Pennine have visited 757 homes within Calderdale who they class to be at risk.
They have established that 113 are not under occupying.
From the remaining 644 homes, 218 have indicated that they are willing to down size.
From the remaining 426 not wishing to downsize;
106 say they can afford the additional cost.
105 say they will reduce expenditure to afford the additional cost
55 say they will make up the additional amount by increasing their income
The remaining 143 homes say;
37 can’t afford the additional cost
123 do not know whether they can afford the additional cost
Within the mix of the 143 homes for the whole of Calderdale, the Council should be able to establish what the local needs are for exemption. However as per usual we see the local Leadership of Calderdale rather than helping local people with their needs, scaremongering with miss-information and half truths. I would suggest what they are actually saying is that they are not capable of deciding what the local need is and would prefer those in Whitehall to make these decisions. Shameful!
If anyone is worried about how the changes will affect them, they can speak directly to their social landlord or apply directly to Calderdale for a Discretionary Housing Payment.
Another great myth under Labour was the 50p tax rate for the wealthy. Gordon Brown raised the tax threshold to 50p for the wealthy just 30 days before he lost office. The brilliance of this man’s move actually resulted in a reduction in tax revenue for the nation from £16bn per year down to just £7bn. Why the reduction? Basically the wealthy transferred their assets to avoid paying the additional amount. Morally wrong I would say, but this is the reality. We know that from the years when previous Labour governments have set high tax rates - It just doesn’t work. The new rate of 45p for the wealthy shows revenues back up to £10bn per year for the Treasury.
Britain currently spends 74% of our income on Education, Welfare, Health and paying interest on our debt. We are then left with 26% for the rest. This really puts the financial legacy left to us into some perspective. Is it any wonder, even after cutting our spending by 25%, we are still over spending as a nation by £120bn per year. Some say this annual investment funded by borrowed money isn’t enough and we should be borrowing even more. Maybe if we hadn’t adopted this policy of spend, spend, spend when times were good and put aside for a rainy day, we wouldn’t be in half the mess we are as a Nation today.
Whether national or local politics there is one certainty and that is we have a country that is in a financial mess and the answer to putting it right is not scaremongering but to knuckle down and direct our attention where this is required. I’ll leave the reader to decide whether we have local Leaders who are committed to the plight of our citizens or scaremongers who relish in local people’s misery by selling half truths and disseminating misinformation.