April 2, 2013 by Rhi
So I haven’t blogged for an age, for various reasons. But today I wanted to get some thoughts down. Not for any vain reason, but because I’m so fricking angry right now I had to get it out somewhere. It’s not likely to be very well written, nothing more than a rambling rant. But I don’t really care. So there.
I watched this video on YouTube. It’s brilliant. But how fecking awful that this song even exists.
The Bedroom Tax is by far and away the worst thing this Government has come up with. Heaping insult upon injury on the people who have been hardest hit by these austerity measures that are supposed to save the UK. It’s not even going to work. I’ve been going through all the scenarios in my head of people who are about to have the rug pulled out from under them. It’s just hideous.
The area I grew up in is mostly 2/3 bedroom former council houses, some still managed by a social landlord. Our minister announced from the pulpit about information being available for this change. I genuinely don’t think half of the elderly people living in these homes are aware of what is about to hit them. My Gran lived in a 3 bedroom council house right up until she moved into a hospice. I don’t thinks she realised that she was on Housing Benefit, because as far as she was concerned a nice young lady from the council came round and filled in some forms and then the council waived her rent. So even supposing she was willing to move (she did talk about it). The waiting list for the local sheltered housing complexes were over 12 months long at that point. So in order be able to afford rent, old people will have to leave their homes, get rid of most of their possessions, and move into a complex. Possibly not even where they live. Aren’t we supposed to care for the older generation? I realise there’s a shortage of social housing for families, but this isn’t freeing up houses. It’s making older people so poor that they either die of hypothermia because they can’t afford heating, or move away from their communities to the first available small house.
Here’s another failure. The benefits system says that if you’re under 35 and single, you’re not entitled for help to get a house of your own. So here’s a scenario. Sue lives with her son and daughter, and her son moves out to go to university. She’s a single mother, and because her daughter is still young, she gets help with housing costs because she only works 30 hours at a minimum wage cleaning job. So her son goes off to uni, and she has to move from the three bedroom house to a smaller 2 bedroom house. But there’s no social housing in the area. So she has to trade off paying extra in the private market, against the drop in her Housing Benefit. Then, when her son finishes university, he can’t get a job. The system is set up to suggest that parents ought to take their adult children back into the family home. Except Sue doesn’t have a family home anymore. She had to move out of it. There’s no space for her son to move back to. Maybe her son would have been better just staying at home and not bothering with university at all?
And here’s the kicker from where I’m sitting. This has been introduced by a government who has no cocking MANDATE to rule in Scotland. As the man in the song says, we’ve got more pandas in Scotland than Tory MPs. This makes you think, maybe they’d be quite happy for Scotland to bugger off and do it’s own thing. Anyone who doesn’t support the idea of an independent Scotland, you’d better start trying to do something about this tax, because this is going to see a massive surge of support for the SNP.
The right wing media and commentators love getting in a froth about people on benefits. A few news worthy stories about people earning £70k a year from working the system and suddenly “something must be done”. They keep talking about the benefit trap, and how to force people out to work rather than claiming benefits. Well, I actually get less money right now for going out to work than if I stayed at home and claimed Job Seekers. Now, I have hopes that this will change. But working in the public sector means my wages are frozen. And my department alone has to make £4m of budget cuts this financial year. I don’t want more money, I just want the increases in the cost of living to be somewhere closer to the wages I earn. And I don’t even have kids. God knows what kind of a mess I’d be in if I had childcare to fork out for as well. It’s not that people are workshy, or have no morals or motivation. It’s that the lack of affordable childcare, and the lack of jobs which give you guaranteed contract hours (the rise of the zero hour contract in retail means many families wouldn’t qualify for Working Tax Credits) means that it’s not just a lack of will to work, it would be financial suicide to come off benefits to take on a job that might not even pay you every week.
This has just been a massive rant, but I don’t really care. What the hell are we letting them DO to people now? Disabled people are dying because of these cuts. Children will be uprooted from their schools and communities because their parents simply won’t be able to afford to live there. Private landlords will be benefiting from public subsidies from the benefits system because there aren’t enough 1 bedroom houses in social housing ownership for young couples and elderly people to move to. If there’s nowhere for them to go, how can anyone benefit from this system? What is the bloody POINT in it?
A Free Scotland is looking more and more attractive by the day. We might not be any better off, but at least we wouldn’t have blood on our hands from standing idly by and watching this just happen.