Tagged: public opinion

Public Support For Axing ‘Bedroom Tax’ Has Never Been Higher

Nearly half of the British public are now opposed to the controversial ‘bedroom tax’, a poll by YouGov has revealed.

The  poll for The Sun found that 49% were opposed to the bedroom tax in July 2014, compared to 41% who still support the housing policy. This is in stark contradiction to March 2013, when 49% approved of cutting Housing Benefit for people under-occupying their social home and 38% disapproved.

Public support for the  tax has not been higher than 42% since November 2013, while opposition to the policy is now at its higher ever level, according to the poll.

 The poll comes after Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg announced a dramatic U-turn on his party’s earlier support for the  tax. He said his party would seek to overhaul the policy, if it is still in government after the 2015 general election, by only penalising social housing tenants who refuse a smaller property.

 Clegg would also seek to exempt sick and disabled people who need an extra bedroom.

> Well he says that now. Come the 2015 election, should he by some unexplainable cosmic oversight still find himself in power, it might well be a different story.

Ditto all the main parties. They’ll tell you what they think you want to hear, right up to the moment they’ve got your vote. Beyond that, there’s no guarantees.

His U-turn was slammed by Labour who accused him of “unbelievable hypocrisy”, after the party voted in favour of the bedroom tax and paved the way for its introduction. Without the support of  Clegg’s party the policy would have fallen at the first hurdle.

Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander (Lib Dem MP) yesterday apologised to social housing tenants who had been evicted from their homes after fallen behind on their rent, as a direct result of the tax.

Under changes to housing benefit, introduced by the tory-led coalition government as part of widespread welfare reforms, social housing tenants deemed to be under-occupying a property must downsize to a smaller property, or contribute to their rent through a deduction in the amount of Housing Benefit they receive. The exact deduction depends upon how many spare bedrooms an affected household has in their home: 14% for one spare bedroom or 25% for two or more.

A study by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), sneaked out during David Cameron’s cabinet reshuffle, revealed that 59% of families affected by the bedroom tax are in arrears with their rent and less than 5% were able to downsize to a smaller property.

Despite the apparent failure and hardship caused by the under-occupation penalty, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith MP, somehow managed to hold on to his job – to the shock and dismay of many of our readers.

However, this sharp rise in the number of people opposed to the bedroom tax  may at least give some of our readers hope that one day we will see the back of this hated housing policy.

YouGov surveyed 692 adults between 16-17 July 2014. The results were ‘weighted’ to provide an accurate picture (as possible) of wider public opinion.

 Source – Welfare News Service,  18 July 2014
http://welfarenewsservice.com/public-support-axing-bedroom-tax-never-higher/

Another Dubious Welfare Poll

According to the Newcastle Journal (08 October 2013),  “the North east is overwhelmingly in favour of a benefits crackdown, an exclusive Journal poll has revealed.”

As is usual with these kind of polls,  this was not actually the view  of an overwhelming proportion on the North East population,  and not a random selection either – the “research” was conducted by a company called Other Lines Of Enquiry North who, we are told, “specialise in delivering quality insights to advertising, creative, design and PR agencies as well as directly to brands across the North of England.”

The people polled appear to have been part of their in-house panel, Panelbase, who get paid for their opinions –   “Most surveys will carry rewards between £0.25 and £10 (depending on survey duration and complexity), which we will add directly to your panelbase.net account.”  In fact you appear to get 3 quid just for signing up ! (https://www.panelbase.net/ if anyone wants to take advantage).

So, not the views of the average man/woman on the north east street then.  And definitely not that sizeable portion reliant on welfare for survival.

“Some 66% of the region said they thought Britain was “soft” when it came to welfare, “ the Journal trumpeted nevertheless, ” lending support to the drive by  Work & Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith to make it harder for people to claim.”

Of course, we’re not told what questions the  paid poll-responders were actually asked. This could be quite crucial.

For example, if the question was ‘Do you think it would be right for people on benefits to get more than working people ?’  then obviously most  people would say ‘no’ – despite the fact that

(a) people on benefits dont get more than those working, and

(b) the question didn’t actually claim they did

– but I suspect a sizeable number of those being polled would read it as “People on benefits get more than those working – is it right they do ?”

This dubious piece of public opinion also claimed  “…almost 63% of the region thinks the long term jobless be made to do voluntary work for their benefits…” 

Oxymoron alert ! You cant be made to do voluntary work. You either do it voluntarily, or you’re made to do it against your will, probably in this case by the threat of financial sanctions.

There was a rather vanilla token response from Catherine McKinnell (Labour, Newcastle North) – “People in the North East have the same strong work ethic as the rest of the country and it’s therefore unsurprising that this relatively small survey  indicates a strong belief that benefits should not be handed out without good reason.

“However, I also know we are a compassionate region and care about the individual circumstances people find themselves in – and I know from my constituency surgeries how many people in genuine need are having support taken away from them by the current system.”

Unfortunately, what seems likely is that the “current system” – including “cracking down” on the worst off, would continue under more or less similar lines should Labour win the next election.