Wednesday, 15 February 2012

It's life Jim....

A month ago we received one of those shiny multicoloured gung ho 'aren't we wonderful' mags from our local council. Tucked away in the middle of the rag was an article on "How the new housing benefit rules will affect you".

It was interpreted, for social housing tenants there would a £12 a week surcharge for any tenancy for every bedroom 'spare' more than the number of people. More, for a couple, they insisted, that's one bedroom for the pair.

So, for instance, you have a family of three, in a three bedroomed house, where two are a married couple, you get hit with a surcharge of £624 a year. Keep in mind that people get housing benefit on a low income.

Contrary to public misconception, not everyone on a council estate is unemployed. It would be fair to say there are, at least in my area, a lot of people are in part-time, transient or low paid jobs or disabled who are entitled to housing benefit.

Cue a flutter of panic. If the council say it it must be true? Yes? Nope. That hasn't stopped their carefully worded bull causing a lot of worry, and people knocking on my door magazine in hand to 'prove it'.

Remember, this was a month ago. It was passed by the Commons a couple of weeks later, went to the Lords yesterday, amended and sent back to the Commons. It will take awhile, but it will pass again, like the other eight amendments the government lost on using the Financial Privilege rules from 1634. Effectively, the Lords can be overruled on the grounds it's essential for the financial security of the country. End of discussion.

On the level of disability benefits I'm on at present, we won't be affected. Yet. But their twiddling with disability so who knows..... But that wasn't mentioned. Remember, no disabled person chooses the level of disability benefit they receive, work related or non-means tested. The Department of Works and Pensions does.

Either way, no bugger is going to insist that I should sleep with my wife if I don't want to. Legislate that.

Whatever. But it's annoyed me that unnecessary distress has been caused by a local council presuming the passage of a Bill. I've had people asking me whether they can have a child from a first marriage stop a few days a week to use their guest room. If their husband works shifts or nights, do they have to be disturbed? Their disabled with a condition that requires storage for specialist equipment? Their married and sleep apart? In a civil partnership or married and one or both are disabled, or what happens if we want more kids?

You might wonder why their asking me. Because the council has withdrawn funding for the local advice centre. It's democracy Jim, but not as we know it.

If you're very brave, read this...........

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