The Bedroom Tax

17 Apr

17 bedtax 2

People outside Britain might not have heard of this, but it’s a very unpopular and divisive new tax affecting the poorest people in society. If you are living in a public-sector home with more than one bedroom and receive welfare benefits you’ll lose at least 14% of your housing benefit. This is a significant amount of money for the people concerned. In Wales, 28,000 households will be affected. They will be expected to pay the extra tax or move to smaller properties. But there are only 400 one-bedroomed homes in the public sector. Now, I went to a State Primary school, where I learned arithmetic. I can work out that 28,000 into 400 won’t go. Unfortunately the people who govern us don’t seem able to do basic maths. Strange, when you think that most of them went to the poshest, most expensive schools in Britain. Obviously a waste of money.

17 bedtax 1

There have been loads of protests around the country. I went to a couple for a scribble. I’m not affected by this tax but I have friends who are and I’m going to these protests to support them and because I think this tax is cruel. My friends are decent, kind, law-abiding people who are living in absolute terror in case they can’t manage to pay this heinous charge out of their tiny benefits or low wages. If they cannot pay they may lose their homes. The government expects them to move to the private sector, which has much higher rents and poorer quality housing. Which will cost the state more in housing benefit and increased healthcare. But they can’t do maths, can they? Or else they want to see a return of vast slum estates managed by unscrupulous slum landlords. Either way, it is shameful.

18 bedtax 3

I drew these into my A5 pink silk recycled sari sketchbook, with a Pentel V5 pen, later augmented with Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens, sizes S, M and B. It was raining and the damp paper was difficult to draw on. It’s good practice to draw crowds; to get the measurements and proportions to look right. I might try redrawing from these to see if I can put a composite picture together.

20 Responses to “The Bedroom Tax”

  1. martinsdoodles April 18, 2013 at 12:54 #

    Much like everything else the coalition is trying to do, nasty and destructive.
    Nice drawings

  2. tim strang April 18, 2013 at 08:56 #

    Rosie, I follow your blog and really enjoy your work. And I’ve also even seen it in the
    ‘ flesh ‘ as it were! These are great sketches.

    I am going to be controversial here – as I can see that all the comments have broadly agreed with you. Your opening phrase about ‘ people outside of Britain ‘ got me thinking.

    Actually, apart from the West ( and rich parts of the South ) , the majority of ‘ people outside of Britain ‘ would it find it completely impossible to understand how the concept of taxation has been turned completely on its head in a part of the world which feels that support and benefits are ours as a matter of right, and that benefits are somehow earned income, and that this state of affairs can continue somehow interminably. The very word ‘ tax ‘ infers for the vast majority of the world’s population, that there has been some income earned – ( or else it is something imposed on the consumption of goods or services.) Actually to be more accurate and truthful, ‘ all ‘ that is happening here is that people’s benefits are being reduced – its NOT a tax, because there is no earned income.

    This is controversial, I am well aware, because the so-called Opposition have coined the phrase ‘ Bedroom Tax ‘ in order to try and gain brownie points; actually should the Opposition be elected at the next election, they will have no option to keep things as they find them, because the world is changing and anyone who tells you otherwise is being dishonest. Under the previous government, there was the biggest decline in the number of houses built for decades – thats a principle cause of the problem.

    My brother – who has bought his own house – now finds his income is reducing and his children have grown up and moved on – he sees that it makes sense and is more affordable to down-size – so he is going to sell his place and buy a smaller, cheaper one. Why shouldn’t that rationale apply to people in social housing too?

    The world is changing – the West consume more than their fair share of the world’s resources – maybe more than double. Here is another sum for you to try: if the poor world is going to get more prosperous – as they should – how does that happen unless the rich world gets poorer? What we are seeing is only the beginning of what is going to become an EXTREMELY painful process of redressing the inequity of the world’s resource use. The West still sits at the top table, and tries to hold on to the luxurious lifestyle which is ours by virtue of our ‘ ownership ‘ of the world’s resources over the last 300 years. This is going to change – and its going to hurt.

    The issue about where all these people are going to lay their heads is of course another one, but in our changing world, lots of people are not going to have the luxury of a dwelling that is bigger than they strictly need it to be, and the poorer and more vulnerable ones will of course be the first ones to feel the pain.

    Incidentally, I also have to take issue with your comment which claims that ‘ the private sector, which has much higher rents and poorer quality housing.’ I have met many people who rent private accommodation at the local market rents, who have very good relationships and friendships with their tenants, and who support their tenants during difficulties. I also hear a lot of complaints about social landlords!

    I guess a lot of landlords will start to knock two bedrooms into one in order to accommodate all these single people that we seem to have!

    I would like to know what alternatives there are.

  3. anna warren portfolio April 18, 2013 at 08:04 #

    Great sketches Rosie, but what an insidious tax – these are always aimed at those who are least empowered to respond. I echo what Veronica said – things are a bit of a mess politically here in Australia at the moment, but I am very concerned about what looks like an inevitable result in September.

  4. mags April 17, 2013 at 23:23 #

    I like the sketches. And I couldn’t agree with you more.

  5. Helen Cherry April 17, 2013 at 23:20 #

    I think they just want to keep punishing the poor for the sins of the rich..

  6. rugbyarts April 17, 2013 at 22:41 #

    Too true.
    Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

  7. veronicacay April 17, 2013 at 22:23 #

    Rosie an earlier post of yours about the bedroom tax sent me looking for more information – it is shameful and as you have pointed out hurting those already struggling. Didn’t they just put Thatcher in her grave – and now they are trying to bring back her legacies. In this country we are due for a general election at the end of the year – the current opposition is likely to be elected in and the policies being bandied about reflect what is currently happening in England. I am left speechless by the ineptitude of the so called ‘educated’ continuously wanting to just line their pockets and maintain what they call ‘status quo’ as long as it favours the rich. Good luck – and the drawings are terrific – yes a composite would be great to see.

    • Rosie Scribblah April 17, 2013 at 22:33 #

      Thanks Veronica, and good luck with the election. We’re stuck with this lot for another couple of years in Britain 😦

      • veronicacay April 18, 2013 at 21:47 #

        Thanks Rosie – I am worried the conservatives will get in with a landslide and heaven help the country then they will think they have a mandate to do whatever to whom ever they choose – the feckless leader doesn’t even believe that climate change is real!

  8. Alli Farkas April 17, 2013 at 22:05 #

    It hasn’t happened here yet, but there is a similarly wrongheaded proposal in the air in at least one of our states, which would require children in families who receive government benefits to get good grades or lose their benefits. How’s that for stressing out an already stressed-out segment of the population. Anybody who’s been to school and taken tests knows that stress decreases performance. It’s a predetermined outcome for these families.

    • Rosie Scribblah April 17, 2013 at 22:08 #

      Oh my goodness, that’s dreadful. Of course the children need to do well at school, but the poor mites need help and support, not threats. Disgraceful.

  9. karasartisticaladventures April 17, 2013 at 21:45 #

    Reblogged this on karasartisticaladventures.

  10. artmoscow April 17, 2013 at 21:44 #

    It’s quite good. I’ve got the feeling of a desperately gloomy crowd of people getting together without much of a hope, but still crowding in one place as stray dogs do,,, – even before I read the description.

    As for the tax, the math is clear: take money from those who can’t stage a strong organised protest, and whose protest is not likely to be supported by a larger proportion of the population. And paint those who are on benefits black in the media. A beating or murder or drugs? Don’t forget to mention the perpetrator comes from a family on benefits.

  11. lrwickerdesign April 17, 2013 at 21:39 #

    So tragic that the most deserving folks often get the least help. I would think it would be self-evident that the “tax” is geared to satisfy those who feel the poor are lazy and undeserving of aid. Shameful, really, and good on you for standing with your pals.

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