Do you remember when George Osborne, the Chancellor, was regarded as a master strategist? His powers of political thinking and organisation were supposedly legendary. We have reasons to question whether the Chancellor is still super-human after last year’s Budget omnishambles. Who can forget the Pasty Tax, the Caravan Tax, the tax on church roof repairs and many more woeful attempts to squeeze more and more taxes out of the general public. Yet, at the same time the Chancellor announced a tax cut for the very richest in Britain with a reduction in the top rate of tax. He still refuses to look at charging more for people who own homes worth over £2m rejecting calls for a ‘mansion tax’.
In less than a month’s time if you’re paying the top rate of income tax you’ll be getting a tax cut from the Chancellor. On April 6, 13,000 millionaires will be getting a tax cut of £100,000 because of this Chancellor. That means if you already earn over £1m a year you’ll be getting a massive tax cut, larger than what most people earn in four years. But at the very same time hundreds of thousands of families across the country will be squeezed harder for more taxes forcing many into poverty.
When compared alongside one another the bedroom tax and the tax cut for millionaires tells us everything we need to know about this Government’s priorities. Tory priorities that are voted for time and time again by the Lib Dems who should frankly hang their heads in shame about what they are doing in Government.
Last weekend while campaigning in Honicknowle, I met two families affected by the Tory bedroom tax. One woman told us that she is having to pay more because the room her son uses when he is back from serving in Afghanistan is regarded as ‘spare’ and she’s having her support cut accordingly. Another woman told us how she was being hit with a big bill and asked how she could afford it. She was disabled and couldn’t work and was already surviving on the minimum of support. But it is not just these people who are affected. Foster carers, who do such an amazing job to care for children, aren’t excluded from the bedroom tax because foster children don’t count as ‘real children’ under these new rules. Nor does having space for disabled children in some circumstances, nor space for carers, nor many other good reasons why people have a room in their home. Look at these together and you can see what a divisive and damaging tax this really is.
The Government does need to tackle the deficit but it would be better advised to create jobs, encourage investment and upgrade our infrastructure than focus their energies on making the poor poorer and the most vulnerable more in need of help.
On Saturday, March 16 we can do something about the Bedroom Tax. We can let our voices be heard. There’s a Bedroom Tax demonstration being organised in Plymouth City Centre from 1pm meeting at the sundial. It is a chance for everyone affected by the tax and those who think it is wrong to stand up and be counted.
Few of us doubt the seriousness of the economic situation and the importance of getting the nation’s finances in order. The people affected by the Bedroom tax didn’t cause the financial crash, they didn’t receive the billions in funds to bail out the mistakes of casino bankers. And nor are they millionaires who are getting a tax cut on 6 April thanks to this Tory Chancellor.
The bedroom tax is wrong. It hurts the most vulnerable and poorest in our society, squeezing them into smaller homes where they are forced to pay more. Perversely at the same time as the richest few get a tax cut. That cannot be right. That simply cannot be right. So much for all being in it together.
You can find out more about the Bedroom Tax demo on Facebook here.