A Tory-run council is withholding help from victims of the Bedroom Tax — to punish them for the ‘luxury’ of smoking. The decision means that a disabled child who has medical equipment stored in a ‘spare room’ could be forced to move home simply because one of their parents smokes.
Callous North Lincolnshire Council can afford to provide to assistance to people in exceptional circumstances – having spent just 10% of its £238,000 budget for helping people — but chooses not to with a deliberate policy that bans anyone who smokes from receiving so-called Discretionary Housing Payments.
Councillor Robert Waltham explained why council staff were asking tenants who apply for help whether they smoked:
“We all make life choices, whether we go to work, or we can or can’t go to work … ”What we ask them to do is to reprioritise their spending.”
Meanwhile his colleague Councillor Liz Redfern claimed that exempting any smokers from the tax would be mean funding their “life choice”:
“many North Lincolnshire residents who work full time don’t have these luxuries and quite rightly they believe it is wrong to expect taxpayers to fund these life choices.”
What’s more, both of these councillors sit on the board for housing association North Lincolnshire Homes.
Good to see they have such utter contempt for vulnerable tenants.
Asked about the impact of the Bedroom Tax on disabled people during PMQs, David Cameron told the Commons:
“Obviously, what we’ve done is exempt disabled people who need an extra room.”
This is not true, with charities’ claiming in a letter to Iain Duncan Smith today there is “stark evidence” to the contrary:
“We have been deeply frustrated at reports that disabled people and their families are protected from this policy. The stark evidence since the policy was implemented in April clearly shows they are not. It is hitting disabled people who need an extra room for essential home adaptations or equipment which enable them to live independently”
“None of these groups are exempt and our organisations are seeing the devastating impact it is having on those who now face a shortfall in their rent as a result of the changes.”
Perhaps a point of order during ‘Bercow Time’?
Heather Simpson — who suffers from a degenerative disease and needs an adapted property with wheelchair access – told Sky News that there is no way she can avoid the £700-per-annum penalty:
“I’m stuck basically, there’s nowhere for me to go.”
“I understand there’s overcrowding, but there’s nowhere for me to go. So I’ll just get into debt.”
Did we mention that Iain Duncan Smith fled to Paris to escape a Commons debate on this issue?
- Anne Main MP is one of Tories’ most vocal backers of hated tax
- Victims pay on average £65 per month for a ‘spare room’
- But she gave daughter WHOLE FLAT funded by MPs’ expenses
One of the most forceful, not to say colourful, contributions to the Bedroom Tax debate last week was from St Alban’s MP Anne Main, who has since been forced to “clarify” her offensive comments in her local paper:
“Unicorns do not exist, fairies do not exist and—it does not matter how often Opposition Members say it—a bedroom tax does not exist.”
Please forgive Scrapbook’s tardiness in highlighting her breathtaking hypocrisy, brought to our attention by a reader. Referencing Labour’s 2004 plans for a similar measure for the private rented sector, Main — who was filmed addressing the Commons in front of a sleeping Tory colleague (VIDEO) — said:
“Labour started the process that should have been continued by ensuring that people paid for the accommodation that they were using.”
One person who certainly wasn’t “paying for the accomodation they were using” was Main’s 27 year-old daughter, who lived rent free for up to three years in a second home funded by MPs’ expenses. So that’s £40,000 in mortgage interest payments on the taxpayer (plus conveyancing fees, furnishings, council tax and refurbishments).
This is a woman who wants to charge 400,000 disabled people up to £832 per year to remain in their own homes.
Spaces in social housing reserved for medical purposes for decades are being designated as ‘spare bedrooms’ under the hated Bedroom Tax. With the case of a kidney patient — the brother of Labour MP Stephen Pound — raised in a Commons debate last week, further details revealed today show that even a purpose-designed kidney dialysis room will cost the tenant an extra £120 per month.
Rivers Pound lives in one of three flats in an Earls Court council block with facilities specially designed for kidney dialysis patients. The news undermines claims that rooms not designated as bedrooms by councils or housing associations would be exempt from euphemistically named ‘under occupancy charges’.
And while the renal patient currently relying on dialysis, his 18 year-old transplant kidney is in the process of failing:
“They don’t look ahead or at the practicalities. It’s far cheaper for me to use dialysis at home than in a hospital taking up a bed. It’s a false economy, surely.”
Did we mention Iain Duncan Smith went to Paris to avoid the recent Bedroom Tax debate?
As MPs related the impact of the Bedroom Tax on the poor and disabled yesterday — notably Stephen Pound, whose own brother uses his so-called ‘spare’ bedroom for kidney dialysis – one Tory in particular seemed aloof to their plight.
Retired British Army officer Bob Stewart was clearly visible snoozing behind Anne Main during early exchanges.
Did someone say ‘disgrace’?
(Thanks to Ross McCafferty for pinpointing the time)
As the Commons debate on the hated Bedroom Tax kicks off, Labour’s Rachel Reeves references Iain Duncan Smith’s absence, which Scrapbook revealed earlier was due to him fleeing to Paris:
“I am also sorry that we will not be joined by the secretary of state, who apparently has more urgent business at an intergovernmental conference in Paris. Some may welcome the fact that one of Parliament’s most dedicated Eurosceptics has suddenly developed such a passion for discussing his problems with our European partners. Perhaps, Mr Speaker, he has had a second epiphany.”
And referencing the victims of the measure who have travelled from across the country to lobby MPs in Westminster today, Reeves said:
“Even as they got off their trains and coaches in London this morning, the secretary of state was already on the Eurostar, scuttling across the Channel.”
Some truly moving stories already being related on the floor of the House.
Iain Duncan Smith is skiving today’s Bedroom Tax debate because of an unannounced trip to PARIS, Political Scrapbook can confirm. The work and pensions secretary is attending a conference on youth unemployment. Conveniently enough, IDS’ team neglected to mention this until last night — despite claiming the arrangement was ‘long standing’.
Hopefully there’ll be time to get some early Christmas shopping done, too.
SEE ALSO: Iain Duncan Smith refuses to attend bedroom tax debate