The Bedroom Tax: let’s make it Cameron’s Poll Tax

The old Marxist cliche has it that history repeats itself "first as tragedy then as farce". It is hugely important that the Left continues to hammer home the point that the Bedroom Tax is grossly unfair - as the polls show, it isn't falling on deaf ears. It's increasingly clear that the Bedroom Tax is Cameron's Poll tax. The Left must ensure history repeats itself as farce, rather than as a tragedy for the country's disabled people.

Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has been gracing the media in the past day or so furiously denying that his concession to exempt severely disabled children from the Bedroom Tax is a climbdown.

Duncan Smith announced that foster carers and some armed forces families would be exempt from the measures, which will see benefits will be reduced by 14 per cent for one room and 25 per cent for two or more bedrooms. On average, an individual affected by the Bedroom Tax will lose £14-£25 a week.

As George Eaton has pointed out in the New Statesman,

In his written statement, Duncan Smith emphasised that Discretionary Housing Payments would remain available for “other priority groups” including those “whose homes have had significant disability adaptations and those with longterm medical conditions that create difficulties in sharing a bedroom.”

But research published by the National Housing Federation shows how inadequate this support is. Were the £30m discretionary fund to be distributed equally among every claimant of Disability Living Allowance affected (229,803 in total), they would each receive just £2.51 per week, compared to the average weekly loss in housing benefit of £14.

Quite right. It isn’t a “climbdown” at all. The worst tenets of the Bedroom Tax are still very much in place (see our meme below).

The apparent concession on disabled children and carers, while welcome, appears to be little more than an attempt to take some of the heat off what the coalition correctly perceives as an impending policy disaster.

Bedroom Tax poster

We’ve covered the policy in more detail here.

Encouragingly perhaps, the policy is decidedly unpopular. According to a February poll by ComRes, just 28 per cent of voters believe David Cameron should press ahead with the Bedroom Tax in April. This is only slightly higher than the percentage of voters who backed Margaret Thatcher’s Poll Tax.

Bedroom Tax poll

It is testament to the sheer credulity of the government that the Bedroom Tax will come in in April – at a time when the government will simultaneously be giving millionaires a tax cut as the 50p top rate band disappears.

The old Marxist cliche has it that history repeats itself “first as tragedy then as farce“.

The Bedroom Tax really could be Cameron’s Poll tax. The Left must make sure history repeats itself as farce, rather than as a tragedy for the country’s disabled people.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.