Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Thoughts on the Bedroom Tax

All this talk of spare bedrooms - sorry, under-occupancy - reminds me of a press article a couple of years ago about the MP for Devon East, Hugo Swire. In this capacity he is my sister's MP. He was apparently disgruntled that his allowance was cut to £9,756pa, the equivalent of a one bedroom flat. It was also, coincidentally, a little more than the annual rent my sister was paying for the rather small house she was thrown out of after the initial 6 month let because the landlady saw the opportunity to make a bit of money with a cash sale! 

This is in addition to his main £1m family home in London. Apparently, if 'forced' to give up his Devon home, a rather splendid - and large - farmhouse near Sidmouth, he would be unable to bring his family down at weekends and his constituents would see less of him. Of course, he could move the family to Devon (it's not like he's going to lose his seat any time soon) and keep a flat in London - Devon has a load of independent schools they could attend, and even one state grammar school!

The story about his 'whingeing' was, of course, denied, but it got me thinking - surely his reasoning that he needed somewhere for his children to come and stay at weekends is exactly the same as all those social housing tenants whose children/grandchildren visit them on a regular basis, but who are now being told that this is no excuse and that they should just put their family up on a sofabed? 

While it's undoubtedly true that MPs are in a unique situation where they are 'dual-sited', one can't help feel that some are still taking the piss somewhat. 1) Decide where your family home is (constituency or London) and keep your family there and 2) have a one bedroom apartment at the other 'site.' If your family want to visit, just make sure you have a sofabed handy!

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