Bedroom Tax
Conservative Party

It's time to put the bedroom tax to bed

 

If you select any of the government’s welfare cuts since 2010, it’s more than likely that there’s been a bishop or two who have opposed them. Remember the Bishops’ amendment in the House of Lords to scupper plans to cap benefits a family can receive to £26,000? Or the letter signed by 43 bishops criticising the government Bill limiting benefits increases to one per cent per year? There have been broader attacks, too, with another letter from 39 bishops describing cutbacks to and failures in the benefit system as a “national crisis”. Cardinal Vincent Nichols has also described the consequences of welfare changes as “quite frankly a disgrace”.

Such episcopal interventions have become somewhat predictable over the years. It could be argued that someone has to do it if our politicians are not willing to stand up for the lowliest and poorest in society, but those who wear dog collars do tend to have more leftist tendencies when it comes to welfare. Research has found that 44 per cent of Anglican clergy think that the welfare budget is too low and should be increased, compared to 15 per cent of the general population and only 9 per cent of weekly Church of England attenders.

Jesus said a good deal about defending the poor and needy and a lot less about attempting to balance the books when your country is running up a huge deficit, which is probably why our bishops focus a lot more on the former rather than the latter. Let’s not forget either that it’s much easier to throw out some strongly worded reprimands from the side lines than to be the ones in the middle of the storm trying to actually steer the boat and hold it together. It’s no wonder that government ministers get exasperated at times when they find themselves being told they are lacking compassion and moral judgement yet again, but conversely rarely receive much in the way of affirmation when they get things right.

Government ministers might see the bishops’ interventions as an irritating thorn in their side which attempts to prick their consciences in a way that is neither helpful nor necessary. But when people on their own side start to do the same, chances are that it really is time to pause and pay attention.

This week we’ve seen exactly that happen with the ‘bedroom tax’. The Bishop of Manchester has been taking well-aimed shots at it for a while now. Immediately after the announcement of his appointment, he took the opportunity to go on the offensive, describing it as a “flawed idea” which is damaging the most vulnerable members of society. Since then he’s referred to it with plenty of other negative terms, believing it to be “genuinely counterproductive“. However, in the last week, David Cameron’s former chief speechwriter, Clare Foges, who is a Christian, wrote in the Times that the Government needs to “move on from the bedroom tax”. She urged: “It is not working as had been hoped and will remain a fly in the one-nation ointment. Have a principled mea culpa moment and move on.”

Daniel Kawczynski, Conservative MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, has written to Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith stating: “I believe the time has come to review this policy and for you to take on board feedback from constituencies as to what is going well and what needs to potentially be reviewed and amended.” He gives the example of the impact on single fathers who lose their visiting rights because they cannot afford a spare room for their children when they visit, as “deeply worrying”. Nigel Mills, MP for Amber Valley, has since publicly voiced his dislike for the penalty, too.

Conservative Home reports that the general feeling at the top of the Government – DWP team aside – is that the policy simply isn’t working out sufficiently well to make the political pain a justifiable cost. Isabel Hardman went further last month when she wrote in the Independent that every Conservative minister privately agrees that the bedroom tax was a mistake. Despite this, Conservative Home believes that Iain Duncan Smith, having fought a long battle on the matter, is unlikely to reverse the policy. If this is true, he needs to seriously think again.

A YouGov poll last year found that 49 per cent opposed the bedroom tax, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see that the figure has since increased. I personally talked to a large number of people leading up to the election and wasn’t able to find a single person who was in favour of it. Often is was used as the first point to attack the Conservatives, with people intending to vote for another party (even the Lib Dems) solely because of it. Many Conservative voters were not even neutral towards it: they were keen to denounce it and saw it as something of an embarrassment.

The policy has failed on so many levels. The DWP has said that it is raising £1 million a day, but in the first year after it was introduced the government made £345m available to councils to help “the most vulnerable people” deal with its introduction. Rent arrears and evictions have soared significantly, denting the expected welfare savings to the point that they are negligible. There is also a shortage of around 100,000 suitable smaller properties in England alone, meaning most people are unable to move even if they want to.

The bedroom tax has been a manifest failure in reducing the welfare bill, but worse is the human cost: along with single fathers, it is children, carers and the disabled who have been hammered. It is estimated that two-thirds of those affected are disabled. Personal debt is growing, as is food and fuel poverty as a result.

The bedroom tax has the potential to be held up as this and the last government’s poll tax. It may not have caused riots yet, but it is hated and despised in a similar way, and has become an unwelcome stain on our society.

The Times reported this week that the late Lord Gould, New Labour’s renowned strategist, had warned members of Ed Miliband’s team early on during his leadership that they had defended the previous Labour government on the wrong points, including on the economy. Yet right up until they lost the General Election, those at the top of Labour refused to admit that their party had overspent whilst in government, despite the evidence to the contrary. Only now, at great cost, are they beginning to acknowledge this serious error of judgment.

Politicians find ‘sorry’ the hardest word, and climb-downs or U-turns equally objectionable, even when they are clearly the right thing to do. Iain Duncan Smith had legitimate reasons for introducing the so-called ‘bedroom tax’, but. as most business leaders know, things don’t always go according to plan. and when that is the case it’s time to re-evaluate and make the necessary changes. This is undoubtedly one of those instances. Any gains have been far outweighed by the losses. Far too many people have suffered for far too little return.

It might not be Iain Duncan Smith’s political instinct to drop this policy, but any temporary humiliation would soon be overcome by a positive response from the public. It would prove that the Conservatives are not just ‘the party for the rich’ and only interested in number-crunching and those who can afford a life without any state support. It would show that political decisions are subject to ongoing ethical scrutiny, and that Iain Duncan Smith and his party have a heart, such that when they talk about being “all in this together”, it actually means something.

On this policy, at least, it doesn’t take much to see that Bishop David has got it right. As a fellow Christian, Iain Duncan Smith would do well to listen, reflect and take on board the episcopal rebuke, along with the criticism of his parliamentary colleagues. It is time to put the bedroom tax to bed, and wake up to a new morning.

  • Thomas Pelham

    There needs to be some sort of incentive for people in large council houses, who are under occupying them, to downsize.

    I can only afford a single bed flat. I work hard to afford it. I purchased it myself. Why should I subsidise another single person to have 2 rooms?

    • Martin

      Thomas

      I had a relative who never held down a job for any length of time but expected the state* to keep her and her children. Her daughter is doing exactly the same thing. Why should I* pay to keep such who will not keep themselves?

      *This is, of course, the same thing.

      • IanCad

        Shouldn’t the family have some responsibility here?

        • Martin

          Ian

          You mean like telling the person they should get a job? Do you imagine it’s not been done?

          • IanCad

            I’m sure your family has done all it could. I didn’t imply otherwise, but should have made a less abrasive comment.

    • Anton

      Keep asking that question to everyone who avoids it here, and don’t be reticent to do a Paxman and ask it 10 times to the same person if necessary; for it is that person who will be showing him/herself up, not you. Please include the author of the article at top.

      • Athanasius

        I wouldn’t bother, Thomas. On this board, people tend to answer the question they want to answer, not the one you actually ask.

        • Anton

          Yes, but which of them was shown up when Paxman asked Michael Howard the same question many times and Howard avoided it each time?

  • Martin

    Seems to me that bishops are failing at their real job and hunting around for things to do that are more in keeping with their abilities. Not that I’d want a bishop who doesn’t believe in the gospel to proclaim it, that is. It would just be nice to see someone in the CoE proclaiming that those who seek God’s mercy will receive it, even homosexuals.

    • DTNorth

      A story about bedroom tax and you still manage to waffle on about gay people.

      Leave them alone.

      • Ah, the surgeon, or is it the lawyer … or maybe even the teacher? You have more professions than Jack has personas.

        • DT North disappeared – again.

          • The Explorer

            Shy one, isn’t he?

          • Martin

            HJ

            “A story about bedroom tax and you still manage to waffle on about gay people.” followed by an expletive.

            Seems DT North feels that I should exclude homosexuals from salvation & healing when Paul clearly does not in writing to the Corinthians.

          • He’s obviously a very humble person who disappears whenever one asks about his various professional achievements. There’s not many a man, if Jack can use that term, who can lay claim to being a renowned surgeon, a school teacher and a lawyer. Perhaps he’s off now studying theology so he can become a pastor for the excluded and marginalised.

          • CliveM

            Rennaisense Man

          • Martin

            HJ

            I’m just surprised he’s not a rocket scientist judging by the speed with which he disappeared.

  • CliveM

    Well let’s start with clearing something up, there is no Bedroom Tax. What you are talking about is the removal of a subsidy for people who in the majority of cases don’t need additional unused bedrooms.

    Let’s not play Labours game here.

    There are hard cases and maybe some adjustment needs to be made to accommodate. But the general principle is sound.

    • Marie

      Let’s not play the conservatives game you mean. “We are freeing up larger houses for families”. No they aren’t, they are reducing benefits.

      • CliveM

        Ah well, at least be agree that terming it a tax is misleading.

  • I’m aware of a single man in his 70’s, who is living in a three bedroom council flat. It was his parents flat and was justified when they were alive and he and his sister were living there. But his sister married, his parents died and he is insisting on keeping the flat because he has lived there all his life. He is fighting against being moved into a smaller flat in the same block, whilst there are families who genuinely need more accommodation.

    • …. the under occupancy rules don’t apply to him and if he wants to stay he is entitled to.

      • That seems to be the problem – no common sense. He has no excuse for not moving into a smaller place.
        I might add that although relatively well educated, he’s never had a job for most of his life.

  • Albro

    The important question is, why does the C of E need 39+ bishops.

    • Orwell Ian

      To bombard the government with pastoral missives and lead it in leftward paths of righteousness.

    • Anton

      One to guard each Article?

      • Martin

        Anton

        Guard or ignore?

  • Dominic Stockford

    I could tell from the headline who wrote this.

    1. There is no such thing as the ‘bedroom tax’. And to perpetuate that name is to join in the misdirection of what it is really all about.
    2. There is nothing wrong per se with the reduction in rent paid by the state to those who are in houses/flats with more bedrooms than people. It simply needs fine tuning so that those who have a genuine need are still catered for.

  • David

    Firstly let’s use words that mean what they say. There is no “tax” only an adjustment of subsidy in an attempt to meet a person’s needs, and no more.

    Secondly I would distinguish between the general principle and its application.

    The general principle that state owned property should be used cost effectively seems sound. Otherwise how do you justify economically, or morally, a family with say, two or three children being squeezed into a two bedroom Council flat, or even worse, say in temporary B + B, whilst a widow or widower lives on in a relatively roomy three bedroom house, given to her years ago because she had a husband and several children at home ?

    So if the general principle is appropriate, the problem is in applying it with some flexibility allowing for the particular circumstances, that’s the rub !

    I say retain the principle of the scheme but aim for rules which prevent hardships and injustices like the examples cited. That’s not easy of course.

    The Bishops have a point here, but I always feel that they delight in pointing to the weaknesses of any right of centre of policy whilst ignoring the good that it also produces. Conversely with left wing policies they merely see the good but never the harm. In short I feel that they are biased.

    Their pronounced weakness is that they refuse to look at, or try to understand even, the exceedingly harmful long term effects on society, and ultimately misery for most, that would be caused by choking off economies by taxing excessively. In short they are economically illiterate, and that is inexcusable when everything we value, for the common good, be it the NHS or welfare payments, are funded by successful profit making firms and individuals.

    Lastly I reflect that as the Roman Empire under which Jesus lived did not concern itself with welfare, he did not have to consider the complex mechanisms by which money should morally, find its way from the then tiny numbers of wealthy to the many in need. Today as we live in a different society, immeasurably more complex financially, it is all too simplistic for Bishops to simply transfer Biblical ideas without being aware of the long term ramifications of failing to maintain the necessary balance that must be maintained between taxation, for welfare and other needs, and a continuing healthy economy, without which we are all, eventually, paupers.

    • dannybhoy

      So if the general principle is appropriate, the problem is in applying
      it with some flexibility allowing for the particular circumstances,
      that’s the rub !

      My longest period of unemployment was two years, and we were in rented accommodation paid for by the Great British Taxpayer.
      I remain grateful for the system, but never let the government con you into believing it’s their money
      It isn’t.
      They take it off you and they decide what to do with their ill gotten gains.
      I am against the bedroom tax although I acknowledge there is a desperate shortage of (suitable) housing.
      The next obvious question is,
      “Why are we suddenly so very short of housing?”
      The EU’s freedom of movement or the government allowing foreign investors to buy up whole swathes of new built and vacant properties in London??

      British governments have been forced to allow cheap labour in which undercuts native British workers, and allows chunks of UKplc to be sold to whoever can pay for it..
      To target people who are disabled is disgusting
      These politicians are crooks.
      http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/foreign-property-investors-corrupting-uk-market-by-paying-too-much-first-time-buyer-homes-1469884

  • Dreadnaught

    The Bedroom Tax is a very successful Labour sound-bite reference that has stuck like Blair’s ‘hand of history on his shoulder’ tag. Pity the Tories didn’t grab the opportunity in like manner and call it ‘social downsizing’ or something along those lines.

  • sarky

    Its not the policy but the implementation that’s the problem. Surely there can be an exemption for the disabled? And how about not cutting money to people who are actively looking to downsize?
    A blanket implementation has not worked and has caused a lot of pain and hardship. I know it’s a lot to ask, but how about a common sense approach.

    • Dreadnaught

      I’m not sure that appeal on the grounds of special circumstances is not already provided for.I think it should It be a blanket decision until appeal granted. After all it is social housing and should be based on need; greatest benefit to the greatest number and all that. Sounds like a genuine socialist move to me – pity New Lab didn’t think of it first.

      • James Bolivar DiGriz

        They did. The ‘bedroom tax’ was introduced by the previous Labour government, but it only applied to privately owned properties, where there is not the ‘right’ to stay in a property indefinitely; see the post by english_pensioner.

        What the Coalition government did was to extend this to publicly owned properties.

  • tjamesjones

    cool a tax cut! I’m in!

  • Busy Mum

    “…..He gives the example of the impact on single fathers who lose their visiting rights because they cannot afford a spare room for their children when they visit, as “deeply worrying”……”

    That’s ridiculous – do they really lose their visiting rights? Or do social services think that a child sleeping in a dedicated bedroom rather than on a put-you-up on the living room floor is of more importance than that the child sees its father? I wouldn’t be surprised if that is the case…..and this petty example detracts from the far greater impact of marriage break-up on those same children….

    And let us not forget that the Son of Man had not where to lay His head….

    • sarky

      Great. Lets all solve the problem by sending those on benefits to wander around a desert.

      • Busy Mum

        Well, it might make them realise that they are entitled to precisely nothing in this world and like us, become grateful for every providence, great or small.

        • MrsBurgin

          As someone who has just spent literally days completing a lengthy application form for a job I didn’t even get shortlisted for, it’s people like you who make it hard for people like me to feel wanted or welcomed by the church when facing challenges in life.

          • Busy Mum

            Oh dear, and all because Sarky wilfully misconstrued what I said in the first place…

          • sarky

            Dont think I misconstrued it at all. Maybe you should consider the impact of what you say.

          • Anton

            If you find things like that hard and are in a church then you’d probably be helped with that form – and by people like Busy Mum.

        • sarky

          Arhh the caring, sharing face of the church.
          I truly hope you never need that which you seem to detest so much.

          • sarky

            P.s. I take it you quite happily receive your child benefit each month?

          • Busy Mum

            I receive it but not that happily – I’d rather my husband didn’t pay so much tax in the first place…

          • sarky

            Donate it then. There are quite alot of disabled people that would appreciate it now.

            I pay a lot of tax. I appreciate how lucky I am and I don’t begrudge paying it to help people not so lucky.

          • Busy Mum

            It’s swings and roundabouts – we need either the tax back or the child benefit…

          • sarky

            Remember “your entitled to precisely nothing in this world”

          • Busy Mum

            True – and the government is entitled to take precisely nothing from us either.

          • sarky

            I think you’ll find they are.

          • Busy Mum

            Wouldn’t you prefer to distribute your alms personally rhather than delegate this most noble of tasks to the government? You could probably make a much better job of it!

          • sarky

            Sound’s like a recipe for disaster. Can you imagine every tax payer deciding where to put their money? So many would be forgotten and suffer.

          • Anton

            Meanwhile the government does such a wonderful job. Billions spent on benefits and still people go to food banks.

          • sarky

            I didn’t say it was perfect!

          • Anton

            Just as well.

          • Busy Mum

            I asked you whether that is what you would like to do; not whether you think other taxpayers might be less charitable than your good self!

          • James Bolivar DiGriz

            There is a four level ranking of how efficient spending is, originally spelled out by Milton Friedman.
            1. Spending your own money on yourself.
            2. Spending your own money on somebody else. Your aunt may have bought you a Christmas jumper you don’t like but she is careful with her money.
            3. Spending somebody else’s money on myself. “If I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch!”
            4. Spending somebody else’s money on somebody else.

            All government spending falls into category 4.I stole some of this from
            http://www.capx.co/10-reasons-to-cut-public-spending-and-keep-cutting/

  • John Wood

    removal of a subsidy? There was no subsidy. The government made it up & removed a fictional subsidy. All those home owners who get their interest paid when unemployed/sick – do you get a ‘subsidy’ removed because you have too many rooms?

  • LoveMeIamALiberal

    As others have pointed out, it’s not a tax imposed, it’s a benefit removed. The benefit was not available to those in private rented accommodation (I believe New Labour removed this, without anyone making a fuss).

    • Correct – it was removed for those in privately rented accommodation.

  • I’ve just been reading in the DT about the taxpayer funding of Tony
    Bliar’s global business empire. When we look at what the British tax
    payer funds and shouldn’t, arguing over a a few elderly folk in
    bigger council accommodation than they need is petty bullying of the
    elderly.

    Unless the government can offer the elderly who live alone in larger
    properties a one bedroom flat in a retirement complex somewhere near
    relatives and facilities they are not going to want to move.

    I think we need a total overhaul of just where and in how many
    inappropriate ways the tax payers money is being spent.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/tony-blair/11668401/tony-blair-global-business-empire-taxpayers-money.html

    • Anton

      “I think we need a total overhaul of just where and in how many
      inappropriate ways the tax payers money is being spent.”

      Hear Hear! Let them share Tony Blair’s accommodation.

  • Inspector General

    One of the marvellous benefits of uncontrolled immigration is the artificially high state of property values. Well, there’s nothing ‘artificial’ about it, it’s real and it’s never going to be any other way, unless by some miracle, half the population is wiped out by a medieval-like plague. (What do you think, DTNorth? A disease that has evolved to become medically untreatable and easily transmittable that knocks out our immune system perhaps? Courtesy our presently indulged high priests of perversity…)

    Do we want to go back to a system where young couples wait years for some old dear to pass on, having refused to leave her spacious tenancy paid entirely out of housing benefit because of all the ‘lovely memories’ she has of her own children growing up there who have long since moved out.

    That would be a flawed idea, genuinely counterproductive, deeply worrying, and any other faux grief inducing description you can find in the wishy-washy box.

    The bedroom tax is all for the best. This country has decided it can’t have too many immigrants. So we either keep the tax or think the unthinkable – severely restricting immigration. One does think that those who want the tax scrapped would be equally vociferous if that ‘equally immoral’ step was taken.

    • The thing is Inspector that when one gets to a certain age one finds the upheaval of moving daunting and in some cases too much. A one bedroom council flat is more likely than not to be in blocks with young noisy people when elderly folk just want a bit of peace.

      • Inspector General

        As one understands it Marie, when downsizing in social housing, you will be offered more than one suggestion. One would also presume that the administrators would take into account tenants ages and consider blocks where young types live inappropriate for the more mature.

        • Dreadnaught

          I first worked in local govt and to get a council house you had to fulfill certain criteria such as; enter the waiting list; have a job; provide references. For a three bed-roomed accommodation there would have to have been at least three kids or a girl and a boy over a certain age.
          But that was an age when a council house was seen as a step up in social standing and benefits were extremely sparse and means tested.

          • Inspector General

            Years ago in Cheltenham, an unmarried Catholic couple could join the list on presentation of a letter from the parish priest confirming engaged status. Shouldn’t think that would be the case these days…

        • dannybhoy

          People are tribal Inspector.
          When one is young, handsome and adaptable, moving location is an adventure.
          As you get older, and especially infirmer, it can become quite frightening. We like the familiar, and personally for the savings made I don’t see why the elderly and infirm should be picked on just because they have a spare room or two.
          And remember, I’m the guy who believes in revamped modernised workhouses….

          • Inspector General

            Well Danny, one does agree with in principle, but the whole idea of the tax was to free up accommodation for families such as those in B+Bs. It just seems immoral for a singleton to live in a rented home big enough for a family.

          • dannybhoy

            If the singleton is fit and reasonably young then yes.
            I was at boarding school 12-16
            Worked away from home in digs the next two jobs.
            Merchant Navy
            Digs in my home town
            Christian voluntary work overseas ten years
            Moved again back in the UK six times ’til the present.
            All this being asthmatic and the last five years deteriorating to COPD.
            God of course looks after us in all our tribulations if we make our peace with Him and live our lives in the power of His Holy Spirit..
            People who haven’t got such a Father looking after them, need us to help those with no faith and no hope.

          • Those of pensionable age are exempted. And if they’ve raised families, why don’t their children assist until they reach this age?

          • dannybhoy

            I think because in our technological highly fluid and mobile society children go where the universities and careers are..
            Good parents want the best for their children because they love them.
            Good kids want to do well for their parents because they love them and appreciate/feel obligated to do well.
            This may mean travelling and living further afield. They meet someone, (hopefully) marry find suitable and affordable housing
            That’s what my lovely wife and I have been prepared to do.
            The world doesnt owe us a living, and we haven’t yet found an answer to enabling parents and children to stay in the same locality.
            That’s the answer I think.

          • DanJ0

            “When one is young, handsome and adaptable, moving location is an adventure.”

            Light on our feet, you mean? 🙂

        • One would hope so, but in reality it doesn’t always work out like that. Councils should incorporate age and status restrictions/limits in their tendency agreements and have enough retirement housing, but they don’t.

          The government should stop rich Russian and Chinese investors buying up large amounts of private new build homes for first time buyers thereby pushing up the prices and depriving young people of ownership creating a renter class in which they end up paying out even more taxpayers money in housing benefits to these rich foreigners who let the properties for extortionate rents or leave them empty.

          • Anton

            They can’t let them for more than the market rent. I take your point, but even if restrictions of the sort you advocate went through, the Russians and Chinese could buy them when they first come on the market a few years later.

          • Because they are new properties with modern appliances the rents will be higher than older properties of similar size and location. New always fetches a premium.

            Why not restrict buy to let ownership of our basic housing stock and forbid foreign ownership of more than one property with less than three bedrooms?

      • Persons of pensionable age are exempted from the under occupancy charge.

      • Anton

        When they get to what age?

        In any case it’s the thought of moving that’s bad if you get set in your ways; the truth of it is not half so bad.

        Furthermore some council tenants qualify for a day’s free removal men that the council sends; that happened to someone I know.

        • A lot of people over pensionable age would rather not move so they have to be incentivised. Free removals, and help downsizing as well as a decent quality retirement flat with security . Most council retirement accommodation such as warden assisted places smell of urine and cabbage.

          The councils should get together with Pegasus,Churchill and other retirement home builders to arrange for their elderly tenants to rent. But, even then some folk will be just too old and infirm to go through the moving process. What will the government do throw them on the street like they did with ‘care in the community’?

          • Anton

            I am in my late 50s and expect to move again sometime and the prospect doesn’t keep me awake. And Abraham chose to obey God and become a nomad at a much older age. In any case Jack has pointed out that these changes do not apply to persons of pensionable age.

            For any discussion of this sort not to go round in circles it needs to consider not only where the money goes but where it comes from, and what is fair for the taxpayer as well as the recipient. A man wrote below, “I can only afford a single bed flat. I work hard to afford it. I purchased it myself. Why should I subsidise another single person to have 2 rooms?” What would you reply to him, please?

          • Late 50s is still young I was talking of late 60s+.

            I would say the fellow is right why should he subsidise another fit and non-disabled person to occupy a local authority property that has unused rooms.

  • Inspector General

    And Jesus addressed the throng “Verily I say unto you all. If you want, then hold out your hand and Caesar will provide”

    Well, actually he didn’t, but if you read the guff that our Scott comes out with, you might think otherwise. Scott seems to, as well as an infestation of bishops and not-of-the–real world ‘socially minded’ politicians and fellow travellers.

    Which set an Inspector thinking. It is indeed tragic if a father separated from his son never ever gets to see him again for want of a spare room. So how exactly do we who live in the real world and pay our way through it cope? Well, as a young lad visiting relatives in dear old Ireland, a camp bed would be produced from somewhere, and situated in the lounge, and one would have spent the night on that. It was bliss, especially with the promise of a damn good fry up in the morning.

  • Marie

    This is exactly why I did my research into religion and found it to be nothing but a man made cult to keep the masses dumbed down. You lot have fallen for it hook line and sinker. You have the audacity to take the moral high ground and look down on the most vulnerable people in society. Hang your heads in shame. You disgust me.

    • Inspector General

      The ‘most vulnerable people in society’ seem to be single men with no dependants who do something called working for a living. One cannot even start to tell you the taxes aimed at those people…

      • You’ll soon be able to marry that cat of yours, or the laptop.

        • Anton

          Plenty of people sleep with their cats already.

          • … and with laptops.

          • The Explorer

            Presumably any kind of computer’s fine. Provided it’s got a hard drive.

          • Corrupted hard drives ….

          • The Explorer

            Sleeping with them and marrying them is not the same thing. Modern society seems to have lost sight of that subtle distinction.

        • The Explorer

          Did you hear about the woman in the States who divorced a truck so that she could marry a train?

          • There’s a very attractive pillar box at the end of our road ….

          • Silly woman. If she had just waited. The time’s not far off when one will be able to have several spouses.

          • The Explorer

            BY the way, have you heard that transsexual is now old hat? The latest craze is transracial? A blonde green-eyed (envy?) girl called Rachel Dolezal is insisting that she’s black. She wants to join the NAACP.

            Now if she’d wanted to change her surname, that’d be a different matter.

          • When ‘reality’ is ‘socially constructed’ then anything and everything is up for grabs. Happy Jack can be whomsoever and whatsoever he/she/it decides and do anything he/she/it decides is acceptable. Subject to avoiding ‘harm’ to others which is itself ‘socially constructed’ so he/she/it will determine just what ‘harm’ is.

      • DanJ0

        A tax on the selfish, I think that’s called. Or that’s what one infers from some of the comments here at times.

        • Inspector General

          Selfish he says! My dear fruit, your crowd has that virtue so well sewn up that no one else can get a look in…

    • len

      Marie, ‘Religion’ is a pretty wide term?.
      I looked into ‘religion’ and found it to be a much more complicated issue than you seemed to have found it?.
      Anyway….. to cut a long story short I gave up on religion too and became a follower of Christ.
      Don`t throw out Christ with your contempt for religion, remember that Christ suffered under the hands of’ the religious’ too.

      • Dreadnaught

        Are you saying you would not be the decent Chap you undoubtedly are without the help of JC?

        • len

          yes , I thought I was’ a moderately good person’ until I saw myself in a different light.

      • Marie

        I don’t believe In any of it.

        • len

          Well I have been there too.
          Although brought up in a Christian family I rejected it until I found Christ instead of religion….

      • dannybhoy

        Len, what denomination are you If you don’t mind me asking.

        • Shadrach Fire

          I believe him to be a follower of Jesus.

          • dannybhoy

            So pompous!
            ;0)

          • len

            To be labelled as’ Christian ‘ connects you to all those who have dragged that name through the mud.Whereas I cannot find any such thing with Christ so I will follow Him…And be proud of it…..

        • len

          Not sure if I belong to any denomination .I was brought up in the Church of England then drifted away.I have attended a few free churches but never stayed for very long..

          I suffered a very traumatic family event at one church I attended which to be totally frank has left me with a deep distrust of organised religion.

          I remember reading this scripture in the Bible and took God at His Word and He is my pastor now…This scripture (addressed to Israel) I believe can now apply to much of the church worldwide.

          http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel+34&version=NET

          • dannybhoy

            Aa-Ha!!
            I hope you didn’t think I was being nosey. It’s just that many of your comments struck a chord, and I wondered where you worshipped.
            Well, our relationship with our Saviour comes first. People, even Christians can let each other down or bitterly disappoint. That’s part of being human.
            Fortunately our Lord looks after His sheep and no matter how far away we wander, and for what ever reason, His hand of protection hovers over us.
            God bless you Bro.

    • Inspector General

      Two questions. Which university are you studying at and have you joined the woman’s groups. All of them. And a third if one may. Do you regularly call people who don’t sign up to your unquestionably totally right views disgusting?

      • Marie

        1. My university has no relevance on this topic, and I graduated years ago
        2. I don’t need to join any groups (except axe the bedroom tax maybe)
        3. Only those who believe taking money from people, for the sake of a spare bedroom, is the right thing to do

        • Inspector General

          She growled…

          Anyway, good evening madam. Do hang around this site for enlightenment if you will. You needn’t post anything. In fact it might be a good idea with your temperament if you didn’t.

        • magnolia

          Ah but if you are using your “research” as giving you credibility in quite the high profile way you are you need to state:
          a) the name and nature of your university
          b) the name and nature of your research,
          and, preferably,
          c) the qualification gained, together with the grade
          d) your research sample and methodology
          e) your preconceptions before you started
          and f) hopefully, your definiton of “religion” (they do differ you know!!

          And then we can tear it apart!!

          • DanJ0

            Regarding f), apparently not believing in a theistic god is also a religion according to some here. It’s certainly a most flexible word!

        • Pubcrawler

          “3. Only those who believe taking money from people, for the sake of a spare bedroom, is the right thing to do”

          So that would be those who believe that taking money from the taxpayer to enable someone to live in a bigger house than, perhaps, that taxpayer is able to afford, is the right thing to do? I’m with you all the way.

        • Dreadnaught

          So a couple with kids and living in temp accommodation is fine, while Granny Grunt lives alone in a three bed council house with a motheaten budgie – Nah don’t think thats fair.

          • sarky

            You forgot the mangy Yorkshire terrier! !

          • Dreadnaught

            You mean the mobile draught excluder?

    • Dreadnaught

      ‘You lot’? Don’t be so sure – this is an unmoderated forum and even atheists are contributors. You must be quite young to be so unilaterally frustrated by opinions that don’t align with your own views; but don’t be too harsh on yourself – try again, without the drama.

    • The Explorer

      Do you mean man-made, literally, or simply human-made? Theosophy, for instance, is a religion, and it was partly invented by a woman.

      • Anton

        Christianity was once a deviation from a mainline religion, and indeed I regard it as a messianic branch of Judaism that has been licensed to go to us gentiles.

        • Hmm …. and Judaism?

          What are you suggesting the relationship is today between this “messianic branch of Judaism …. licensed to go to us gentiles” and this former “mainline religion” from which it deviated?

          • Anton

            That the context for the New Testament is the Old, not the writings of the “church fathers”. Hence sola scriptura.

        • The Explorer

          No problem with that. My problem is with the statement that religion is a cult. What is the tree of which religion is a branch?

    • dannybhoy

      You could change your nom de plume to “Sullen of Surbiton” or “Excitable of Exeter” or perhaps even “Disgusted of Dumfries”

      Stick around kid, you’ll find it’s quite fun and educashunal…

      • Inspector General

        I say, old chap. The lady concerned ‘graduated years ago’ which would put here age at around 24. It would also explain her headstrongness…

        • magnolia

          You mean otherwise she might have put “decades”, like some of us, no doubt??!

    • Did your research cover the man who did more than any other person in history for the poor in Britain?
      He was a high Tory and an evangelical Christian.
      His name? Lord Shaftesbury

    • sarky

      Well said! !

      • Inspector General

        She’s only been here 5 minutes, but one suspects she already has you for the arse you are…

        • sarky

          I think you may be getting us confused.

          • Inspector General

            {GROWLS}

    • Rasher Bacon

      Just had to up vote that one – love your enemies, the poor blighters.

    • Politically__Incorrect

      You should ask for a refund from the university

      • dannybhoy

        Lol!

    • Anton

      By what reasoning did you find religion to be nothing but a man made cult, please?

    • carl jacobs

      This is a variation on a well-traveled argument:

      1. If God existed, then not X … for example “men would not suffer.”
      2. X … in the case of my example “Men suffer.”
      3. Therefore God does not exist.

      Here we have this argument:

      1. If your religion was true, you would teach and practice X.
      2. You don’t teach and practice X.
      3. Therefore your religion is false.

      Now we add the tag line. “I did this study, and I have concluded that all religions are false.” Presumably because of failing this test. It’s nice to know that Marie has by virtue of her study unlocked the metaphysical basis of the universe. In any case, we should ask ask the obvious question.

      What makes the major premise true?

      Did she determine it from reading sheep entrails? Did she find it growing from the ground? Did she begin with herself and derive it from whatever arbitrary first principles she might choose to employ? How exactly did she arrive at this objectively true statement – and it must be an objectively true statement if she is using it to reach her objective conclusion of “Your religion is false” – and upon what authority does she ground it? She won’t ever say.

      One must surmise that she has confused the welfare state with true religion. For it seems that a true religion must assert a divine edict establishing the right of any man to state-subsidized rent. In this model, we are supposed to understand that true religion exists only to meet the temporal needs of men. (And oh btw those temporal needs are determined by comfort level and not by necessity.) By extension, we would conclude that God exists only to meet the temporal needs of men. Why? Because we can no longer have a situation where temporal needs are subordinated to spiritual growth. One could no longer assert “It is morally destructive for you to live an indolent subsidized life.” Indeed, spiritual growth becomes nothing more than the establishment of comfort and the Book of Job is turned on its head. God is constrained to think and act like a man, because that is how man would prefer God to think and act.

      In which case, Jesus would have accepted the role of Bread King and given men free food for the rest of their lives. That is how secular man sees God, and the pigeon hole into which he desires to push the church. “If God existed, God would give me stuff. You believe God exists so you should give me stuff. And that’s all you should do.”

      All that repentance and amendment of life? Yeah, not so much.

      • A very good post, Carl. And cool uses of irony too.

        • carl jacobs

          Why, thank you, Jack. Where have you been lately?

          • The Explorer

            Becoming a Calvinist, by the sound of it.

          • carl jacobs

            So … you would consider that a good thing, correct?

          • The Explorer

            In many respects.

          • carl jacobs

            Your response is insufficiently absolutist.

          • Hmmm, a typically Calvinist response … but then you know this.

          • Calvin in his impatient determination for clarity, misunderstood the difference between predestination and foreknowledge and could not fathom the seeming contradiction between the Sovereignty of God and man’s free will.

          • Eh? Please explain.

          • The Explorer

            Complimenting Carl. Worrying trend. Mind you, Carl does compliment you for being a consistent Catholic, as opposed to the perversity of the Inspector. Perhaps you were simply returning the courtesy. (Of being consistent, I mean.)

          • Jack has been buying a small second home in Kirkcudbright, just around the corner from his daughter and granddaughter. Now Catherine is returning to work, her mother and Jack are on grandparent duty looking after Lucy during the day. Our new home means we can do this without staying over in the evening. Lots to do.

            Imagine Jack’s joy, Carl. The home backs onto a Catholic Church’s grounds. In the morning we can see the three crosses from the building; in the evening the sun catches them and they shine on our home. Wonderful, just wonderful. And, even better, the Real Presence of Christ, in the Eucharist, is no more than 25 yards away. What a privilege to sleep so close to Our Lord. We’ll move there full-time when our home becomes too big.

          • dannybhoy

            See, us evengelicals can meet with your God and our God anywhere Jack.
            But we recognise that the Lord is as much in your life as he is in ours..
            So we rejoice with you that you are blessed in your new location.

          • Catholics meet God everywhere too. However, we believe in transubstantiation and the Real Presence of Christ. They are not in contradiction.

          • CliveM

            I hope you are very happy there and enjoy time with your Granddaughter for many years to come.

  • Inspector General

    Well, we descended on this new Marie like a bunch of pack animals. We should be thoroughly ashamed of ourselves. It’s not as if we get a silly humanities graduate coming here every day :- >

    • dannybhoy

      Smirk.. :0)

  • Is “social housing” really necessary or efficient at all in 2015? Okay, an emergency homeless service is needed and local authorities should coordinate the private market and any charities who want to enter the fold, to see the market meets need and not just makes profit. But an entitlement to be housed permanently, regardless of changes in circumstances? And an entitlement to live rent free, regardless of need? Crazy.

  • Mike Stallard

    “Bedroom Tax”.
    Great spin!
    Three of my four children live abroad to escape the tax system in this country. They are, by my standards, really well off. They are much freer to do what they need to do without constant government interference. I miss them.
    As a supporter of the Church, I can see the people flooding in to our Church Hall for the free goodies from every corner of the world. The government has no idea who they are, which are the bludgers, fudges and crooks. Everyone gets a hand-out of my children’s money. And time after time, it us who hand out the sandwiches, the love, the care and the smile at the Church food banks. (Now claimed, natch, by the political class as their very own.)

  • Marie

    So as a non believer can someone please tell me which is the “real” God? There are so many, supposedly thousands over time, I’m confused.

    • The Explorer

      Does it matter if they’re all human inventions? (Which you know already from your research.)

    • ‘You will find Him when you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul’ (Deuteronomy 4:29). ‘But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for the one who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him’ (Hebrews 11:6).
      .
      Happy seeking! Believe me, it is worth the search.

    • The Explorer

      If it’s a serious question, I’d say there are three things to consider.
      1. If God exists, why isn’t the existence self-evident to all? Why is God such a poor communicator? I’d look at explanations for why the link between God and humanity is so blurred.

      2. No 1 might also explain why there are so many different gods. Guesses by the god-consciousness within humans. So consider a religion that has a reasonably coherent theory of revelation.

      3. Written revelation might be one source; the other might be incarnation. I’d focus on the religions that have an incarnate God as central.

    • William Lewis

      Surely there is no “real” God for a non believer?

      • Marie

        I’m open to being convinced otherwise. Go for it.

        • William Lewis

          Your convictions are your business. One cannot convince anyone of anything. We seek and we choose and often we choose what we seek. In any case it seems that you are already convinced that all religion is a scam.

          God may persuade you of His existence otherwise – if you want Him to. Have you sought Him? He likes to be asked. I have found Jesus to be a good way in.

    • len

      There is only one God, the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob…

      There is one’ contender’ for the throne of God who goes under many names but is identified by his actions for he comes to steal kill and to destroy and his deceptive powers are truly amazing. He said “I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself LIKE the Most High.”(Isaiah 14;14) Satan’s deception was/and is/ the lie “you can be AS gods”

      This lesser’ god’ sits at the head of many religions pretending to be God and his objective (as ever) is to draw people away from the true God .

      The True God is identified through His Word ( the Living Word Jesus Christ) and His Written Word the Bible.

      The God of the Bible (of Abraham , Isaac and Jacob) is not the author of confusion and if you seek Him He will find you…Bless you.

      • Marie

        Funnily enough I don’t get any grief from satan worshippers. They must be more tolerant.

        • len

          Perhaps these satanists want to lull you into a false sense of acceptance?. There are Christians here who will telly you the truth even if it offends some,but it is done in love (mostly)

          • Marie

            I haven’t seen much love in here. A lot of calling people on benefits, and definitely no love towards me lol

          • Inspector General

            You poor wounded kitten. Of course we love you…

          • Marie

            Do I care……..no

          • Inspector General

            Oh well. One expects you get all the love you need from your admiring husband and splendid children…

          • Marie

            Why do you assume so much? Yesterday it was my age and the degree I studied. Today it’s my marital status and children.

          • Inspector General

            One is warming to you, silly…

          • Marie

            Your wrong on every one btw

          • Inspector General

            You need to attract yourself a man, young lady. Then you can prepare for marriage and children, and forget about those wasted three years at university. Time is of the essence, you know. Your looks, if you have any, will start to deteriorate after 30, if not before…

          • The Explorer

            Take ‘The Bedroom Tax’ out of the title, and replace it with ‘Marie’. That, in essence, is your message.

          • Inspector General

            Didn’t expect that from you, Explorer…

          • The Explorer

            I hate to be predictable.

          • dannybhoy

            You old smoothie.
            I didn’t think you had it in you…… :0)

          • CliveM

            But can on old dog learn new tricks?!

          • dannybhoy

            More to the point, can an old dog perform new tricks…

          • CliveM

            I’d rather not think about it………… :0(

          • dannybhoy

            Ewwwwwwww!

          • CliveM

            Lol

          • carl jacobs

            More like “Can an old cat learn new tricks?”

          • CliveM

            What are you suggesting, that our Inspector is a mangy old Tom?

          • carl jacobs

            Nah. Nothing so sophisticated. I just figured he wouldn’t like being compared to a cat. Just normal everyday “Ruffle the Inspector’s fur because it’s fun” stuff.

            Not as much fun as annoying Jack of course. But still …

          • CliveM

            ……… Got to take any opportunity that comes your way!

          • CliveM

            Ps I think what we have here is the Inspector in full courtship mode!

          • dannybhoy

            He’s late this year..

          • The Explorer

            Cats might not be too keen on the comparison either.

        • The Explorer

          How many do you know? Boring lot, I’ve found. Self- absorbed. Not nearly as exciting as the name suggests.

          • William Lewis

            Thanks for the chuckle.

    • dannybhoy

      You sound like a confused uni grad… That’s why you need to stay and interact here.
      Get sum real educhashun…

  • Marie

    Enough about whether god exists.
    The “bedroom tax” was never about freeing up larger properties, it was always about taking benefits from people.
    Councils no longer build one bed properties for the elderly or disabled because there could be a future need for a carer.
    The criteria for bedrooms was changed so that children are forced to share up to the age of 16 regardless of their sex, forcing parents with children to pay it.
    It was never supposed to affect the disabled yet they have to pay, even if a couple cannot share the same room because of the nature of the disability.
    Local authorities were told to ignore dla when calculating housing benefit, they don’t.
    DHP was supposed to be available for people to claim, yet is almost impossible to get.
    New rules from LA and HA are being introduced where people on the waiting list for properties are interviewed to discuss finances, and make sure they can afford to pay the rent. If they don’t convince that they can, they are removed from the list.
    Some LA will only let certain properties to employed people.
    Larger properties are being boarded up because people can’t afford the bedroom tax.
    The gov are considering increasing the bedroom tax in July.
    Oh yes, all about freeing up properties for families.

    • William Lewis

      Enough about whether god exists.

      Seems the window to convince you of His existence was a small one.

      • Marie

        Would you like to discus the bedroom tax?

        • William Lewis

          Yes. It’s a delusion. In fact so many people believe in it one could call it the bedroom tax delusion.

    • carl jacobs

      Follow this bouncing ball.

      Bob receives £100 per week in benefits. The government reduces his benefits by £10 and this is described as a tax increase. How was this slight of hand accomplished? Evidently, the fact that Bob once received £100 per week means that Bob is thereafter permanently entitled to £100 per week as if the received benefit was earned income. The government is therefore increasing its bite on Bob’s earned income when it reduces Bob’s benefit. And what will the gov’t do with its increased take from Bob’s hard-earned money? Probably give it to people who already don’t pay their “fair share.” Through some kind of “giveaway to the rich.” So reducing a benefit is a tax increase, and reducing a tax on income is a giveaway.

      Did you get all that?

      • Marie

        So it’s pay up or get out, but I thought it was to free up larger properties?

        • carl jacobs

          Marie

          I don’t have enough knowledge on this subject to voice a credible opinion. Yesterday was the first time I had ever heard the phrase “council housing.” I am commenting on your obvious misuse of the English language for obviously transparent purposes. You are calling a reduced benefit a tax increase because you want to imply the benefit is earned income – essentially payment for labor rendered. You are doing this to avoid the unpleasant fact that a gov’t can freely withdraw that which it freely gives.

          • Marie

            Wow, never heard of “council housing”. So you don’t live anywhere near houses owned or previously owned by the council? Now passed on to HAs or sold on for £1.

          • DanJ0

            He’s American.

          • Marie

            I thought they would have had enough of their own problems.

          • DanJ0

            You’d be better calling it an “under-occupancy reduction on housing benefit”. This is largely a right-wing forum, in the non-derogatory sense.

          • carl jacobs

            I am exceptionally ecumenical.

          • IanCad

            Section 8 Carl.

          • carl jacobs

            Ian

            It’s funny how people (me, for instance) will read a context into a comment. When you said Section 8, my brain just naturally associated that comment with a “Section 8” discharge from the military. That’s an archaic reference to a discharge due to mental incapacity. “He’s a Section 8.” is a way of saying he has a mental illness. So my natural inclination was to read “Section 8 Carl” as “mentally ill Carl.”

            Whaa? That couldn’t be right. Something didn’t compute. Section 8 of the Housing Act wasn’t even on my radar scope until after I did a quick google search.

            Jack, you should feel guilty for all the terrible things you are thinking right about now.

          • IanCad

            Carl,
            As I tend toward garrulity I make a conscious effort to be brief in my posts. In this case I was overly (underly?) so.
            We have a parallel military archaism: LMF – Lacking Moral Fibre. My American wife is much taken by it and frequently resurrects it during our squabbles.

          • Oh he does, he does, and so wished he’d read this comment sooner.

          • carl jacobs

            Why do you think I posted what I did? P-K3 protects the pawn at Q4.

    • dannybhoy

      “Enough about whether Marie exists…..”

  • DanJ0

    Despite it being a benefit, not a tax. You’re not making yourself very credible.

  • Phil R

    There are bigger savings than the bedroom “tax” to be made.

    I rented a 4 bed detached house to a family over the last 8 years.

    It seems that the family were making the sensible choice financially and the mum was a single parent with the 4 kids and the dad worked in England with 2 weeks in work and one week off. (Spent in the above house in Wales with his kids — we assume with his)

    I understand completely what this family were doing and I have some sympathy with them. You see there is no financial incentive to be married at all. But at least £15K in this case was the incentive to be not married and live in two single households. (The Rent for the 4 bed house was £9600 pa alone so a considerable saving on its own against being married and having to pay it all as a family would have to)

    Forget bedroom tax, it saves peanuts. Time to introduce incentives to be married I think before we end up bankrupt as a country.

    • CliveM

      Agreed, however as the advert goes, every little helps

    • DanJ0

      Aren’t you colluding personally in their immorality? :O

      • Phil R

        Our Government provides incentives to be immoral it seems

  • brezza

    If the government were serious about us all “in it together” they would have cut back on expenses and not indulged themselves on a big fat 10% pay rise The only people suffering cut backs are the people that needs the most help and the bedroom tax is not working,has cost the government more money than it has saved and has completely failed to do the thing it was meant to ….whilst causing terrible stress and worry to thousands

    • Dominic Stockford

      An independent body now sets the pay of mp’s. Like it or not, they no longer give themselves rises.

      • Yes but who appointed the independent body in the first instance? The mps. There is nothing to stop the mps from declining the pay rise out of a sense of all being in it together and fostering a better atmosphere with the public.

        • Ivan M

          I am afraid you have to pay for talent . The days of noblesse oblige are long gone. MPs have children to feed and have to secure a good life for their loved ones. The pay in the UK is only a fraction of what is paid in Singapore. What you have to look for is performance commensurate with the pay. MPs dispose of a trillion dollar economy . If you pay peanuts you’ll get monkeys.

          • magnolia

            If you pay less you might just get more idealists and more people who combine it with other professional activity, and fewer career politicians. No bad thing, I think.

            In fact surely it is the monkeyish tendency in man, and not the Christian one, to only work per rata for money. Was Jesus paid a mega salary to ensure good quality? Or the disciples?

          • It’s hardly peanuts Ivan and their husbands and wives work too so they are not poor by any means. They want to try living on the minimum wage and see how they manage then.

            I agree you have to pay for talent in the business world, but each job has its worth and for the work they do and the hours they put in, £64k + expenses is commensurate with the job they do. You say “They dispose of a trillion dollar economy”, well not very successfully! Maybe if they were a bit more successful then we might consider paying them commission instead of a 11% automatic rise.

        • len

          It seems the MP`s throw up their hands in mock horror “we really do not want to take this money but we have to because we have no option”.
          Seems like a set up to me.

          What other body is forced to have pay rises?.

      • dannybhoy

        Dominic,
        And that body sprang into existence ‘ex nihilo’?
        There are always strings, always connections..
        What body, aware of all the unhappiness, the strains and breakups of couples and families going without any ‘ex nihilo’ body to fight their corner; would recommend that those same politicians who are mainly responsible for all this hardship get a 10% pay rise?
        Really.

  • It’s not a tax, if you’re going to stir up trouble here then at least get it right.

    • Marie

      Wouldn’t dream of stirring up anything, but as the term is used more than under occupancy rule I’ll stick with it thanks. Its a nasty policy and needs to be scrapped, before there are even more related deaths……….cue another onslaught.

  • The Explorer

    You’ve been fun, Marie. Thanks for visiting us.