“I’m so sorry. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I wish I was dead.”

Stephanie walked out in front of a lorry on the M6.
Charles took his own life.
Donna wishes she was dead.

The Tories fall asleep in the Opposition Day debate, laugh, jeer, and accuse campaigners of ‘shouting’ too loudly about it.

Here’s a few reasons why I hate, oppose and challenge the bedroom tax. Those that quibble about what it’s called are completely missing the point. Here’s a few to start you off:

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For this full story, see Four families every hour being made homeless BEFORE bedroom tax: Real Britain, Daily Mirror, 27 March 2013.

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For this full story, see Pensioner killed himself over fears he could not afford his home: 3rd November 2013.

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For this full story, read: The bedroom tax discriminates against disabled children: 6th November 2013

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Labour peer warns bedroom tax will cost more money than it saves: 1st November 2013.

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Bedroom tax suicide victim Stephanie Bottrill’s son speaks out: 31st July 2013.

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Single mother who begged for a smaller house took overdose over £600: 9th June 2013.

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Danielle Heard: From Millenium child of courage to bedroom tax victim: 10th July 2013.

…and finally, here’s how important the Tories thought the debate was (thanks to @RossMcCaff for this):

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The debate was lost by 26 votes. Just 26 votes.

226 voted to scrap this cruel and inhuman cut.

252 sociopaths, even when confronted with staggering evidence and heart-wrenching personal stories of suffering, voted to KEEP it.

We must, MUST, fight on. For Stephanie. For Charles. For Melissa. For Warren. For Donna. For the 660,000 people and families affected, for the 420,000 disabled people, and for what is RIGHT.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

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Categories: Blog

71 Comments »

  1. I have friends who are now in debt through this bloody TAX, they have a 21 year old disabled son mental age of 6-12 months, he’s a hefty not fat 6ft lad, the dining room in their old council house was turned into his bedroom and a bathroom built on the back, there are hoists from the bathroom all the way through to the lounge, the front of the property has been adapted for his wheelchair, their other sons have now left home leaving them with 2 spare rooms, the work has been done in this house for them to look after their son at home, to move them to a suitable place would cost in the region of 30k+ for all the adaptations special bathing equipment and so on, all because they have 2 spare rooms! someone please tell me where the savings can be made in this situation, the current home would have to be altered by removing the bathroom extension for another family, the hoists removed more expense.
    I know they would have been praying that today’s vote to go the right way,

  2. I had no idea of the existence of the bedroom tax. It’s unconceivable. Keep on struggling, for democracy is made by those in suffer – the people – not those in power, the 252 sociopaths that keep on condemning Britain’s lower class. Wish we had shouting voices like you here in Portugal! Best of luck!

  3. It’s appalling, utterly appalling. Disabled people need help and protection. Not this, Certainly not this. My heart aches for those affected.

  4. Two sides to every story. Whilst there are exceptions such as the adapted home for a disabled house holder, what about the people who receive huge amounts of housing benefit for a large home that they don’t need? That housing benefit is going into the pockets of private landlords, thanks to a lack of local authority owned social housing, and it has come out of the all too small wage packets of us, the average tax payer.

    • The bedroom tax doesn’t apply to privately rented properties.

      Local Housing Allowance is set on a calculation of family size and local properties that meet their needs, and where the family choose to rent with that (if they can find somewhere, as it’s very low) is their business.

      The bedroom tax is applied to try to force people in council houses bigger than they need to move to smaller properties – but there are very few such smaller properties and many more larger, dating from the days when families were bigger, so they can’t usually move. They just get a cut that means their benefits are less than the amount the government’s own calculations say they need to survive.

    • You only receive housing benefit or local housing allowance based on the number of people in your family. You would never get huge amounts of benefit. It’s all relative to that. For example if you lived in a house on your own, you would only receive a single persons housing benefit which often isn’t enough to cover rent in a privately rented property. So if your rent was £600 and your housing benefit entitlement was £300. You’d have to find the extra £300 from somewhere. Where bedroom tax comes in is as social rent is a lot cheaper some people can have a flat that has two bedrooms and they are covering their rent and the tories want to add an additional tax on top on their rent as they have a bedroom free. This may seem all very well and good however they are pretty much holding people with an already stretched budget to ransom. They can’t move(not any one bed flats to move to) and they can’t pay(not enough money)so their options are to be evicted. You would never receive huge amounts of benefits if you didn’t need the space.

    • @PPP, the only example of “people receiving huge amounts of tax payers money for a large house they don’t need” that I know of is the Windsor family currently occupying Buckingham Palace…

      • Not true – apart from the fact that the Queen voluntarily hands over the income from her land (which she would keep if we became a Republic, it’s hers not the Crown’s) which far outstrips the amount she receives from tax payers – what about all the MPs with their second homes?

  5. Status Update
    By Grassroots Welfare
    List of LD MP’s who voted for the bedroom tax tonight – They were: Norman Baker (Lewes), Sir Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed), Tom Brake (Carshalton & Wallington), Jeremy Browne (Taunton Deane), Malcolm Bruce (Gordon), Paul Burstow (Sutton & Cheam), Lorely Burt (Solihull), Sir Menzies Campbell (Fife North East), Alistair Carmichael (Orkney & Shetland), Edward Davey (Kingston & Surbiton), Don Foster (Bath), Stephen Gilbert (St Austell & Newquay), Duncan Hames (Chippenham), Sir Nick Harvey (Devon North), David Heath (Somerton & Frome), John Hemming (Birmingham Yardley), Martin Horwood (Cheltenham), Simon Hughes (Bermondsey & Old Southwark), Mark Hunter (Cheadle), Norman Lamb (Norfolk North), Michael Moore (Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk), Tessa Munt (Wells), John Pugh (Southport), Dan Rogerson (Cornwall North), Bob Russell (Colchester), Sir Robert Smith (Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine), Andrew Stunell (Hazel Grove), Jo Swinson (Dunbartonshire East), John Thurso (Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross), Steve Webb (Thornbury & Yate), Stephen Williams (Bristol West).
    ACCORDING TO GRASSROOTS WELFARE

  6. List of traitorous Lib Dems who voted in favour of the Bedroom Tax tonight – They were: Norman Baker (Lewes), Sir Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed), Tom Brake (Carshalton & Wallington), Jeremy Browne (Taunton Deane), Malcolm Bruce (Gordon), Paul Burstow (Sutton & Cheam), Lorely Burt (Solihull), Sir Menzies Campbell (Fife North East), Alistair Carmichael (Orkney & Shetland), Edward Davey (Kingston & Surbiton), Don Foster (Bath), Stephen Gilbert (St Austell & Newquay), Duncan Hames (Chippenham), Sir Nick Harvey (Devon North), David Heath (Somerton & Frome), John Hemming (Birmingham Yardley), Martin Horwood (Cheltenham), Simon Hughes (Bermondsey & Old Southwark), Mark Hunter (Cheadle), Norman Lamb (Norfolk North), Michael Moore (Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk), Tessa Munt (Wells), John Pugh (Southport), Dan Rogerson (Cornwall North), Bob Russell (Colchester), Sir Robert Smith (Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine), Andrew Stunell (Hazel Grove), Jo Swinson (Dunbartonshire East), John Thurso (Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross), Steve Webb (Thornbury & Yate), Stephen Williams (Bristol West).

  7. When you were concentrating on your recipes blog, not was it helpful, but also encouraging. I feel it a shame you are now displaying a political column. Please return to what you did to touch the hearts of general people. P

    • is she not allowed to express her thoughts – be they political or otherwise? And seriously did you honestly think a blog about making meals on starvation rations and no money was anything other than political?

      • Why does everyone try to categorise the blog – whether speaking about food or social welfare as I see it Jack is concentrating on helping those who are often beyond helping themselves – surely this is a good thing

    • I feel it’s a shame that you miss the point completely, . There are lots of recipes and celebrity chefs out there but there is only one Jack Munroe.
      Jacks blogs were born out of the situation she found herself in, her situation was born out of a system that failed and a false perception which allowed this to be ignored or accepted.
      In purely business plan terms it’s actually her unique selling point, in human terms it’s what endears a wide range of people to support her and wish her and her family well.
      Jack speaks simple truths with honesty and passion the synergy of the whole is far more valuable than the isolation or fragmentation of any of the individual parts.

  8. I started to write that this vile tax does not affect me, but if that is the case why do I feel sick to my stomach each time I read the dreadful circumstances people describe? It does not affect me as i own my house but the frustration, heart ache and despair I feel, as well as the contempt in which I hold this so called coalition government affects me to my core. The sickening sight of pigs guffawing in Parliament with delight at the plight of the most vulnerable in our society instills me with determination to do all I can to bring them to their knees at the earliest opportunity.

  9. This tax is ridiculous in its current form. Somewhere, underneath all of the rubbish, there’s a nugget of a good idea – let’s not subsidize people who live in large houses and refuse to move, while others need the space. But the whole thing comes across like something that someone suggested over a pint and then a bunch of idiots picked it up and ran with it without more than a minute’s thought and a ‘eh, that’ll do’.

    No thought of providing a decent, fast-moving structure for people to apply for exceptions in advance of it being rolled out. No thought of the people who would move, but can’t, because nowhere is available. No thought of the myriad of personal circumstances or situations that might mean a family can’t move, or can’t without significant distress or impractical expense. Not one bit of thought seems to have been put into any of this. Perhaps if it had been, the whole thing would have been declared too expensive to administer, and not rolled out at all – but at least if it had been rolled out with care, consideration and a bit of bloody humanity, instead of in a rip-roaring hurry, we wouldn’t have the complete mess it’s turning into.

  10. @ Penelope Atwood – A GIRLCALLEDJACK’s blogs were POLITICAL loooong before she became ‘the darling of the middle classes’ (resist urge to add ‘like you’) by posting recipes.

    • I w as very impressed with your interview on Radio 4. You know nothing of my ‘class’, I might even have a title for all you know. It might also be of interest to you that I am a registered volunteer fr a local food bank, hence my interest in your recipes.

      • Hi Penelope – I was going to reply to your original comment but I’ve been quite caught up with the bedroom tax conversations on Twitter! I get that some people read my blog for the politics and don’t care for the recipes, some read for the recipes but don’t agree with the politics. I sort of hoped that people would treat it like a newspaper (albeit an irregular one!) and skip over the bits they weren’t interested in. 🙂

      • Thank you for yr reply, your recipes are so good and innovative, I wouldersonallpy say – Please consider maybe a second page?

  11. Appalling treatment of people who are in unfortunate circumstances not of their choosing. Sadly, until we have a massive paradigm change which puts the well being of people and the planet before profit, this will continue.

    You’re right Jack those that voted to keep this cruel policy are sociopaths. Priviliged, greedy, selfish and unwise troughers with no empathy or compassion for other beings. Very sad world we live in.

    Good on you for having a go at getting things changed. Take care though and don’t burn yourself out trying.

    With Respect
    Helen

  12. The bedroom “tax” is not meant to hurt people it is meant to make it fairer for people. Yes, there are kinks that need to be worked out but why should someone get to live in a bigger house than they need and have the tax payer pay for it? In the case of disabled people/people that have lost a child etc there should be help available but I really don’t see why people that go to work and have bought their own house should have to consider costs of mortgages, home improvements etc when non working people live in maintained council houses with rooms that they don’t need at no cost to themselves?
    There is so much in the press about the poor people that suffer at the hands of benefits but what about the poor people that work long hours to make ends meet, where is their help?

    • THERE ARE NO SMALLER PLACES TO MOVE TO!

      Plus, it costs a fortune to move. Who’s going to pay for deposits, bonds, rent in advance, movers trucks?

      Your tax pounds are subsidising far greater scroungers. Where’s your “moral outrage” where tax cuts for millionaires and corporations not paying taxes?

      Plus, I’m assuming you want to turf out pensioners right? Because if this tax is just about overcrowding tax payers (as several Tory MPs have claimed) pensioners are the “worst culprits”.

    • In the north east (I suspect in many other areas too but can only vouch for my own area) there IS no housing stock for people in ‘underoccupied’ houses to move into. There are not enough one-bed or two-bed properties. So what do you propose that people do?

      There is the kernel of a point in the idea, but the implementation has done untold damage to countless lives. Do you REALLY think that it’s more important to move people out of houses that some rule considers to be too big for their needs, RIGHT NOW, when people are actually committing suicide because they are so scared.

      Because if you do…. I have no idea what to say to you, as that idea makes me feel sick.

    • The trouble is, Liza, that they’ve rolled out this tax without bothering to work out those ‘kinks’ – and in the meantime, people are suffering.

    • Firstly many of the people in Reciept of HB also work very hard and often work long and anti social hours. They are simply no longer paid enough to survive in a world of rising costs and shrinking incomes.
      I have recently retired having worked hard all my life and sacrificed to buy my own home. It’s a large family house with lovely gardens if I didn’t own it I’d be eligable for HB by virtue of having been born in Feb 1950 rather than April 1950. In my opinion as an able bodied active individual I should be the person facing this NOT someone who has a much greater need.
      In theory and faced with a shortage of affordable homes, overcrowding and homeless families there does appear to be as someone said a nugget in all this, in reality it was rushed through, poorly researched and badly implemented. We don’t have the stock to downsize, it’s causing massive hardship and it’s costing more in fiscal terms to implement than it could ever hope to recoup. It also plays into the misconceptions and stereotypes that somehow the most vulnerable are to blame for not only their own situation but also the state of the nation.

    • These aren’t ‘kinks’ Liza. The injustice is built into the very design of the policy.

      The Government did consider (behind closed doors)exempting sick and disabled tenants and carers. But when they realised this group formed the majority of those affected what did they do? Abandon it like any decent government would do when a policy reveals itself to be discriminatory and punitive and contrary to basic human rights? Reconsider when two thirds of the tenants affected have a chronic illness or disability?
      No, they saw this as an opportunity to roll it out with even greater hopes for success. You see, disabled people have marginally more in benefits. Oh, it doesn’t matter that the money is meant for the costs of disability! Steve Webb encouraged housing officers to check that tenants were in receipt of all their benefits, like disability living allowance, ahead of the start of the bedroom tax, just to bump up household income.
      Disability benefits are what keep the bedroom tax an economically viable policy for this government. To exempt all disabled tenants would lose 300 million of the ‘saving’, making the policy worthless. That’s 300 million that’s currently having to be paid from the DLA of tenants with disabilities, terminal cancer, heart disease, severe mental health conditions, motor neurone disease. If they don’t pay they go into arrears. If they do pay they lose money meant for their care.
      These are not kinks, Liza. Not anomalies. The policy depends on the impoverishing of sick and disabled tenants.

    • Did you actually *read* the post? In what universe is suicide acceptable as a “kink that needs to be worked out”? People are *literally dying*.

      They HAVE jobs. The MAJORITY of people claiming Housing Benefit or living in social housing have jobs. Even if they don’t – how are they supposed to get them in this climate, where all the entry-level jobs are going to people with experience and qualifications and those without are left in the cold? When unemployment is so high and the markets are shrinking?

      Does not being able to find or keep a job means you deserve to be cold, hungry and homeless? Does it mean you should be denied your basic human rights? Why?

      It takes a long time to find a council house, and you get what you’re given. You say “move somewhere smaller” but there isn’t anywhere. These are not people who have choices. They CANNOT “downsize”. Does that mean they should be homeless?

      Why does being unemployed and broke mean that you deserve to be made suicidal?

  13. My wife is bed-bound with advanced multiple sclerosis, and our home has many adaptions to enable us to cope. Fortunately we are not in social housing, but whenever I think about this inhuman policy my blood goes cold to contemplate what this would mean to us if, like other disabled, were we to be faced with this situation.

    This government, supported by a propaganda-led right-wing Press. is taking this country back to Victorian times when a privileged few kept the ‘common folk’ in their place.

    Seventh riches country….and £90 billion expected to be paid in dividends alone by the FTSE100 companies this year..a 22% increase over 2012. No that’s not a mistake…£90 BILLION !

    The only thing an impotent government is allowed to do is to play divisive social politics when it is in the pocket of the money men.. . Or as the good book says, ‘To whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey’

    Keep up the good work Jack…keep pushing those messages out…the critical mass driven by today’s communication WILL bring about change. 🙂

  14. These rotten scroungers, leeching off you, eh? How dare they exist? ‘Get to live in a bigger house than they need’? Have you any suggestions as to where all the one-bedroom houses this would require are? Listen to yourself. The world is NOT divided into strivers and skivers, whatever the Telegraph and the Mail tell us so relentlessly, and there’s no need for anyone to hate others in this knee-jerk way.

    • The hate justifies the ideology, and the skewed ideology of them and us justifies the blind rabid hate, even though deep down the Daily Mail journalists kind of know they are overegging the pudding and adding misery to the lives of people who may already be in deep despair. But some people love to hate others, it is the way of the world. It saves time seeing that we all have worth and value, to hate someone and call them feckless or a skiver or a chav.

  15. At some point, people have to be honest and admit it is society’s failures that lead to these sad events, not government policies. But in doing so, we’d have to admit our own culpability and that is simply too much for most people – it’s much easier to blame somebody else.

  16. Will the bedroom tax also affect working families who pay their own rent, rather than receive housing benefit? Or is there no discrimination? If not, then that’s hardly fair!! Not all council house tenants are rotten scroungers, you know…

    • It’s not a tax as such Deborah, but a reduction in benefit. If you rent privately and do not claim housing benefit you can have as big a house as you like (can afford).

  17. Have some imagination Liza Grice. What do you mean people live in social housing “at no cost”? You mean that repairs are done by the landlord (the local housing trust) but there is still a substantial rent to be paid. Have you no idea of the ties people may have to the properties they live in and may have spent a good deal of money on improving over years to meet their own tastes or needs. People cannot be torn up like weeds and moved without desperate consequences. if you cannot see that far, just try to visualise yourself in such a position. And what about the shocking wish for a spare room to put up visiting family or give a sick or disabled person some privacy? I could go on and on. I blame Ian Duncan Smith because he is the author of this wicked plan and i blame all the public servants who have worked hard to implement it. Only the most fragile people are struck with terror at the prospect of homelessness. Perhaps, you, Liza, are young, footloose and in well paid work. Perhaps, like everyone in the Mother of Parliaments the prospect of being evicted for the inability to pay a few pounds more in rent per week for the luxury of a tiny extra bedroom is beyond imagining, especially as the taxpayer funds many of them to maintain a second home whether they need the allowance or not.

    The bedroom tax has rather left the pages of the press lately. Maybe thirty eight degrees could launch another petition with a list of all the members who voted for the measure on a shame list.

  18. People are being dehumanised and persecuted because of Right wing political ideology; where have we seen that happen before? Disabled people are being ruthlessly persecuted and made to be scapegoats for the mistakes and greed and fascism of the rich and those in power; where have we seen that before?

    I notice that now things have got much worse and people are committing suicide and driven to despair and the fear they might not be able to heat their houses, the vast majority of the Middle class dominated media has gone silent, and in some cases like the Daily Mail (a paper that would make Hitler blush for it’s Right wing stance and usual ill researched nonsense presented as journalism) has become an attack dog for the government, a mouthpiece to condone what they are doing, with the honourable exception of the Daily Mirror which does publish some decent balanced stuff. It is the silence of the complicit as well as those like the Tory MPs and cabinet ministers that help aid these people in power. That maybe thousands of people have died as a result of ATOS decisions shows them for people who have lost any touch with reality and long parted with any pangs of conscience.

    The mess this present government has created and the waste of billions of pounds ruthlessly pursuing Right wing dogma and ideology is beyond belief and yet they said that this bedroom tax and these cuts were about saving money. Hasn’t quite worked out though has it? And then let’s talk about the ‘benefits’ that the rich and aristocratic and royals receive shall we, and all the perks, allowances and subsidies MPs receive too even though they are all on wages far higher than the minimum wage. They are beyond hypocrisy; they are amoral. They think they are above being held accountable and they are above good and evil. One day they will find out no one is above being held to account. Especially those who live in wealth and splendour and make worse the lives of those already impoverished.

  19. The best I can say Jack is that it seems that what is happening is an apartheid, in very loose terms. Not race based, but entitled based segregation. It is not just a UK thing, but in america, russia, australia, now with the new crazy PM. All aspects of our lives revolve around politics of living, whether it is food, who you love, work, religion. I come here for a light in the darkness, one who has made it work. So, it is food for thought and food for the belly. I like it.
    Be well

    Laurence

  20. Some of the examples here are shocking, and the headlines are purposefully written that way. Did that pensioner kill himself on just the basis of the Spare Room Subsidy? From actually reading the article, probably not. He had other issues going on, missed his wife so much and so on.

    The funds allocated to councils to help out those in emergencies is terribly undersubcribed – there is help out there for people but they’re not taking it. If the liberal media actually concentrated on educating people on what they can do rather than just saying how bad it is, maybe more people would know more about it. Referring to the article on the pensioner, it even states that he wouldn’t actually be affected by it – but because he most likely only read papers that decided to spin a more negative image than actually giving useful information, he didn’t realise it.

    Let’s not forget that there are many laws and payments made that adversely affect some people.

    • Your comments raise some important questions.

      What sort of education do you suggest is provided by the liberal media?
      What sort of ‘help’ is available?
      Where is your evidence in support of your assertion that Councils have massively undersubscribed emergency funds?
      Why do you speculate so casually on a personal tradegy?

      For a little while, I speculated that you were simply taking the piss or that you were either Paul Dacre or Duncan-Smith incognito.

      Then I looked more closely at your picture. I now realise that you are just a sad, smug prat trying to be controversial for the sake of it.

      • The local council has the ultimate discretion and will, in this case, most likely make an exception for the families of the disabled. Implying otherwise might be a wilful misdepiction of the issue for the sake of spin. All of this empty, distracting spin and malicious rhetoric is tiresome but does succeed in drawing in the uneducated vote. Let’s argue party politics on facts and results. Let’s be honest about real agendas. And let’s see how it’s interpreted before we use this as an excuse for class war. I don’t think personal insults are appropriate here.

  21. Speechless…but not surprised. I wish I could believe that any government that we choose to elect will be able to stop these stories of misery. There’s something much more fundamentally wrong in our society. Greedy landlords and our lack of care for each other are amongst the things that we should look at.

  22. I am disgusted at the Libdems, I have the dubious pleasure of a Libdem MP (for whom I deeply regret voting) and they are campaigning like mad at the moment – “if you don’t vote for us then you’ll get a Tory MP”, as far as I can see we have a Tory MP in all but name. When I get their freepost envelopes asking for my opinion, I send it back to them empty, an empty envelope they have to pay postage on in return for the empty promises they made to get my vote. Small? Petty? Possibly but at least a little bit satisfying.

  23. So very sad and stressfull I’m speechless I’m speechless over this bedroom tax crap and the attitude towards it and speechless over you bringing this into everyone’s awareness again and again you are one gutsy girl and I can see that in all your pics I see of you and I’m thrilled and happy for you that you have found someone that makes you happy and a gorgeous looking couple I might add 🙂

  24. Isn’t it the bare minimum we should expect of a government to ensure that its citizens have food and shelter? What am I paying my taxes for!?!

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