Bedroom Tax Debate: Emily Thornberry MP highlights a glaring inconsistency

Why are pensioners exempt from this policy while disabled people are not?

The misery and injustice of the bedroom tax has been well documented, as has the fact that there simply aren’t enough smaller properties to accommodate those deemed to have a ‘spare bedroom’.

But what hasn’t received adequate coverage so far is that pensioners are exempt from this policy while disabled people – who make up two thirds of those affected by the bedroom tax – are not.

This is a strange exemption given that one of the stated aims of the bedroom tax is to free up larger ‘under-occupied’ properties in order to reduce overcrowding. As Labour MP Emily Thornberry pointed out in today’s Opposition Day Debate, older people often inhabit houses with unoccupied bedrooms.

She put the following question to the pensions minister Steve Webb, who is filling in for Iain Duncan Smith:

‘The honourable gentleman began his contribution this afternoon by talking about overcrowding…part of the problem is ‘empty nesters’, elderly people whose families have grown up. If the principle behind this bedroom tax is…to move people on to smaller units, why does it not apply to pensioners?’

Far from saying that the bedroom tax should be extended to pensioners, Thornberry was exposing a further injustice in this wretched policy.

What reason can the government possibly give for excluding older people which does not also apply to disabled people? That older people are more likely to vote Conservative, perhaps?

14 Responses to “Bedroom Tax Debate: Emily Thornberry MP highlights a glaring inconsistency”

  1. JustMe

    Elderly people should NOT be intimidated or bullied out of their homes, especially if they have lived there for 20+ years and one or more of their loved ones died. Would the powers that be say “Your family have all grown up and left now, so get out, you selfish old fart and give the place to someone on the waiting list, whose kids live with them! Go and rot in an old folks’ home for all we care!”? Why, of course the Tories would, and so would UKIP – they want everyone over 80 put down.

  2. Sparky

    Larger properties occupied by single people are poor resource-allocations of housing stock. To balance this inefficient allocation, financial restitution is applied. It’s logical and equitable.

  3. Jacko

    But what if a family from war-torn Somalia arrived on theses shores, homeless and desperate, and were granted asylum?

  4. m montgomery

    she is making a POINT after all most people affected by the bedroom tax have been in there homes years and if it affects the disabled why protect pensioners and she was right the tories are trying to protect the old vote no other reason

  5. m montgomery

    so where should they move if there are no suitable or smaller properties and it does not matter if you use one or all bedrooms the rent is the same ,if they move to a private rent the they will be paying way more , people forget they were given lifetime tenancies and spent money on there home because of that

  6. Sparky

    Fred has lived for decades in state housing, paying a much lower rent than poor Jack across the street who couldn’t get a council house. Then one day Fred is made redundant, and has to claim housing benefit. So now Fred is asking the state to pay his rent. But the state doesn’t want to pay all Fred’s rent because Fred is living in a big house and the state desperately wants that big house to house families. It didn’t mind so much when Fred was paying the rent because the state was receiving money from Fred. Now the state is paying the state. Oh dear, something is going to change.

    So the state asks Fred to make a contribution if he wants to stay in his big house. Not a huge contribution, just 14% of the rent for one spare room, 25% for two spare rooms. Yes, the state will stay pay 86% of Fred’s rent if he has one spare room and 75% of his rent if he has two two rooms. Still pretty generous of the nice state (that’s other people’s tax money, in case you’d forgotten).

    But Fred, poor chap, despite years of very cheap accommodation compared to old Jack across the street has saved nothing for a rainy day, hasn’t a bean in the world. So he can’t make any contribution. Oh dear, Fred is in a pickle.

    But Fred has learned a valuable lesson about personal responsibility, accountability and the how socialism makes people complacent and dependent.

  7. Mason Dixon, Autistic

    Except that if Jack has been staying in his private accommodation for the same amount of time Fred had stayed in his- there is no additional charge for the extra rooms at all. This is because the legislation that made it so private renters would have reduced Housing Benefit was not retroactive for obvious reasons that went straight over the heads of our current government. They did make their under-occupancy charge retroactive and ignored all the experts pointing out the problems way in advance.

    They must be socialists to be so complacent and certainly they depend much on their wilful ignorance.

  8. Bill Kruse

    The bedroom tax does affect pensioners http://speye.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/bedroom-tax-does-affect-pensioners-from-april-2013-oh-what-a-tangled-webb-we-weave-minister/ I suspect very few people taking part in that debate knew what they were talking about.

  9. Bill Kruse

    But if a family moves in they do so in the knowedge that when the kids leave home they’ll no longer be able to afford to live there as they’ll fall foul of the bedroom tax and they won’t be able to move somewhere smaller as those properties don’t exist. So they can’t move there in the first place. What’s really happening, as we’re seeing, is that properties of that type are being demolished and the land sold off for building luxury flats to be sold as asset classes to the very wealthy. That’s the real point of the OBC and the BT. It’s clearing the poor off the land to create enclaves of the wealthy like they have in South Africa. Enclaves can be defended and they’ll need to be too. The war we’re in, the rich against the poor, is becoming overt.

  10. SgtVimes

    You are quite right that the elderly should not be intimidated or bullied out of their homes. Neither should the disabled.
    Is there a connection here between the age demographic of the traditional conservative voter and the exemptions for pensioners from many of the worst cuts to the benefit system?

  11. m montgomery

    so how would the world run without the cleaner the baker and the candle stick maker and the posh boys boot polisher all on minimum wage

  12. m montgomery

    people wont want to do anything to there homes i know i’m not i was about to paint the hall landing and stairs i wont bother now i might not be hear long

  13. TM

    The poor don’t count anymore; didn’t you know that? Useful for fighting wars and being cannon fodder and when all the shitty low paid jobs need doing, but in a downturn, we are all surplus to requirements. And then we are turned against each other one way or another whilst the rich, affluent and powerful carve everything up and we are made to compete against each other and fight for the crumbs. Gandhi brought down the British Empire. Time we all peacefully fought back any way we can, or the only people who have a future will be the rich and the few Middle class people who sell their souls and derogate any conscience they have to hell somewhere. Where many of them may end up when they die.

  14. TM

    The word that ties all the victims of these cuts together you are looking for is ‘poor’, the people that don’t count basically.

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