I write about trains, usually. And if I’m not writing about trains I’ll throw in a train-related pun somewhere just for consistency. But today, the government’s so called ‘Bedroom Tax’ comes into force. So I’d like to address it. The tax is not a tax per se – it’s a cut. A housing benefit cut which will affect already vulnerable people.
I have some suggestions. The first couple of these will be ideas, the next will be novel ways the affected can comply with the government’s idealogical Big Society outlook without making a fuss.
1. Those who will be affected by cuts to their housing benefit if they have a spare bedroom in their homes will have been sent a letter. This will be a ‘Benefit Decision Notice.’ The notice, which all those with a good level of English literacy will be able to understand, will explain that tenants with a spare room will have one month to appeal the decision to cut their benefit. If everyone who is sent the notice appeals, the cost of taking them all to court for the appeal will be millions of pounds. Conveniently for the government, as of today, Legal Aid has also been cut and ‘civil legal aid is no longer available for cases involving divorce, child custody, clinical negligence, welfare, employment, immigration, housing, debt, benefit and education.’ This means those appealing will need to represent themselves, so on top of those decent literacy skills, it will help them to have a good basic knowledge of the law and be pretty savvy public speakers with high levels of self confidence.
2. Those who have a good level of English literacy (especially those who are lawyers) could lend some time to getting sample challenge letters created for those affected to use and to helping those affected proceed with their appeal as much as is within their power.
3. Those affected could be matched to students who need accommodation during their studies. Said students will act as both teachers to, and, where needed, childminders for, the children of those affected. This will help those affected get to work, as requested by Work and Pensions Secretary Ian Duncan Smith. It would also be helpful if said students could be available in evenings and on weekends to help fill in any gaps in education their adult housemates might have. Within days these adults will not only be able to find full time appropriate, well paid and intellectually stimulating work but with the diligent care of their new au pair will have also applied for said work, obtained an interview and been successful in securing a new job.
4. Those affected could be matched with builders with some time and concrete to spare. The builders could then simply fill any spare room/s in in the homes of those affected with concrete, thus removing the problem.
5. Those affected could be given the right to turn their spare room into any kind of pop up business space. Suggestions include, animal sanctuaries, algae cultivation hubs, adult learning centres, businesses beginning with the letter b, and businesses beginning with the other letters in the alphabet.
6. Those affected could move into Ian Duncan Smith’s house. It is said he has four or five bedrooms going spare.
7. Those affected could simply move out of their homes and into hexayurts. Hexayurts are cost effective wooden hexagonal structures originally designed for Burning Man festival-goers but since used in disaster relief scenarios. One suggested location for these hexayurts to be placed would be ‘all along the proposed HS2 route.’ Alternatively, any fields in the Home Counties will probably do.
8. Those affected could turn their spare room into office space for entrepreneurs, particularly those from the ‘silicon roundabout’ in London, where large pockets of funding exist for start up not for profit organisations. The benefits here are twofold as anyone who has seen the Channel 4 series ‘The Secret Millionaire‘ will agree – entrepreneurs will gain valuable first hand experience of living in the gritty real world.
9. Those affected could turn their spare room into a ‘place of worship’ which accepts donations. It would be preferable if the ‘place of worship’ was all-inclusive, as a minority of those affected might be atheists.
10. Those affected could turn their spare bedroom into a rehabilitation centre. They should be allowed to determine which sorts of patients they admit. Bedroom rehab centres could be dubbed ‘Big Society Clinics.’
I hope that the above suggestions will help everyone affected by this matter.