Cllr Nevin on Policy and Resources Scrutiny

Cllr Cheryl Nevin writes:

Last’s weeks Policy and Resources Scrutiny meeting was interesting for the fact that Leader of the Conservative Group John Lamb took exception to my labeling the “spare room subsidy” as the “bedroom tax”.

Definition of a subsidy

money given as part of the cost of something, to help or encourage it to happen:

When was additional money given to Council tenants as part of this so called “subsidy”?

Definition of a levy /or tax

an amount of money, such as a tax, that you have to pay to a government or organization

I rest my case.

We learned that 200 South Essex Homes residents have been affected by the “Bedroom tax” or “Benefit Caps”, attributable for approximately £10,000 of the rent arrears now owed by tenants of Southend Council. Many tenants are willing to move to smaller properties but are awaiting suitable swaps, or vacated properties to be re-located to, whilst still accruing debt in rent arrears. The Labour Party calls this unfair and will abolish this unjust, immoral tax.

There may be a further impact on rent arrears when Universal credit is introduced in February 2015, Southend Council is working towards reducing that risk, by working in partnership with DWP, who will be supplying on site guidance and advice.

I asked the portfolio holder to “seek assurance” from the DWP that they have identified those most likely to be affected and conducted a systems “trial run” to limit the impact to claimants when the switch over occurs. Also, to make sure “proper risk assessments have been completed” as often changes in benefits claims cause real hardship to tenants.

I am glad to see that the Council has opted to keep the Essential Living Fund for emergency situations to March 2019, following the withdrawal of government funding for our most needy and vulnerable residents.

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4 Responses to Cllr Nevin on Policy and Resources Scrutiny

  1. I’m not sure you can tax a benefit in this way, as it is a reduction of the benefit… so surely it is a ‘benefit reduction’, to reflect that fact you are being given ‘too much’ money… to rent a property that is ‘too big’ for you?

    We can argue the point of whether it should be reduced or not and the impact on the individuals concerned – something I would have thought you’d be better off arguing, rather than unnecessarily trying to turn this specific benefit reduction into an argument about names!

    However the fact you insist on calling it a ‘tax’ just goes to show your, and the Labour Party’s in general, philosophy. Housing Benefit is not an income; it is a benefit to help you out until you (hopefully) do not need it anymore.

    So how is this restoration going to be paid for? Don’t tell me… ANOTHER tax on bankers or the mansion tax… it’s going to pay for everything isn’t it?

  2. dave batter says:

    I saw a BBC program recently which featured ‘bedroom tax’ where it was pointed out that in order to qualify a ‘bedroom’ has to be of certain dimensions, even the amount of space taken up by a radiator and opening door is taken into account, the person in reciept of a demand for two extra rooms turned out to have rooms too small to qualify.
    So they kept that very quiet
    While I personally agree in principle with the tax it should be applied correctly and to the letter.
    Another of the persons in the program wanted to downsize but there were no properties available
    As a tax payer I do not agree with my taxes paying for spare rooms which are needed by persons in overcrowded accomodation

  3. dave batter: Do your views also apply to the Royal Family? Or to those who claim second home allowances etc from the public purse?

  4. I don’t often find myself in agreement with Julian but well said or possibly all those huge grace and favour homes ministers are given. Full of empty bedrooms. As a taxpayers perhaps we should be less concerned about the loose change the bedroom tax provides and demonising those in social housing and focus more on the billions and billions of unpaid corporation taxes we allow foreign companies to avoid as well as the billions lent to the banks who have got away with a slap on the wrist and a few millions in fines. Great profit model that. Can’t blame them really.

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