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Published on April 3rd, 2013 | by Jack Cowell
Image © Flominator 2013


Do your bit for the country: build yourself a study

In principle, the bedroom tax could be an appealing policy. The number of people sleeping rough every night in Britain can make the notion of taxing every unused bedroom seem like a vanguard policy of social justice. The Bolsheviks would have been proud of it though they might have mocked its half-hearted, somewhat meek approach. The selling of the measure has made many believe that this is another layer of social adhesive; binding us all together in our combined struggle to get through such tough economic circumstances. Everyone is paying their dues. There is, however, a big problem with this approach.

Far from flying the flag for the proletariat in a strive for equality and social equilibrium, the bedroom tax is hurting exactly those who are most in need of extra help during an economic downturn. The majority of news segments, articles and interviews have merely been a medium for the purveyors of tripe to air their perversely distorted knowledge of life in the real world.

The problem of housing in this country is an urgent one. Bedrooms go unfilled in council houses due to the fact that these are the houses which were built, and due to a pathetic rate of construction and development, these were all that were available when single parents were applying for housing. The huge numbers affected by the bedroom tax (some 660,000) are thus right to feel aggrieved at being penalised for living in a home, the choice of which they had no choice in at all. If one really wished to solve the housing crisis in this country, one would address the problem of the need for over 4 million homes now. Instead they try and force the few we have managed to provide shelter for into smaller houses while promising a meagre 50,000 homes over a number of years. Given that most applicants for new housing are newlywed couples, small families or single parents, these houses had better have as few bedrooms in as possible or another load of first time buyers might face a substantial bedroom tax they have no way of avoiding.

Yes Grant Shapps, you’re right. We could all learn a thing or two about surviving austerity from you. That stuff upper lip should be bronzed and placed on the white cliffs of Dover as a testament to your community spirit; your dedication to economic justice which we should all seek to emulate. Your boys do share a room, next to your study. I will ignore any speculation about the differences in the state of this room and the average room affected by the tax. This must have been as offensive to single parents in poor housing as Iain Duncan Smith’s contention that he can live on £53 a week is to working people with no savings and 3 kids. No, there is a much more fundamental problem with this attempt at defending the bedroom tax. That is the insinuation that making your children sleep in the same room and turning the (now) spare bedroom into a study will help solve the housing problem. If a family of 3 is put into a 3 bedroom house as this is the only housing available, what are they to do? Knock part of it down? I think I sooner would knock down half of my house than be blackmailed or patronised so brazenly.

Mr Shapps has absolutely no idea what it is like to be poor in this country. He has less idea about what family life is like in cramped conditions (especially with teenagers). The last thing a family like this needs is more tax. They need more homes. Government must first provide somewhere smaller for people to live before they try and punish them for where they are living now.

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About the Author

Jack Cowell

Jack is from Liverpool and has a Politics degree from Sheffield University. He is mainly interested in domestic politics but also has a keen interest in Africa and Latin America. He also like Formula One, Everton FC, films and ska, reggae and metal music. He is currently spending his time working his way through Asia (the Continent, not the 1980's Prog Rock Band).

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