Watching BBC Parliament live at around 7pm [last Wednesday] I heard Don Foster the Liberal MP and Communities and Local Government Minister say that there are 390,000 households who under occupy by 2 bedrooms or more. Given that the official DWP estimate is 120,000 under occupy by 2 bedrooms and 540,000 that under occupy by 1 bedroom is the minister saying the total affected by the bedroom tax is 540,000 and 390,000 or 930,000 in total?
Or has Don Foster simply got his figures wrong?
I was going to leave this until tomorrow so I could get a copy of Hansard. But then I was alerted to the fact that Don Foster said exactly the same thing at 2.30pm this afternoon (see here)
So if Don Foster simply has got it wrong he has got it wrong twice within the space of 5 hours and has misled Parliament twice in those same 5 hours. So is he just incompetent or has the numbers of bedroom tax affected gone up by 270,000 from 660,000 to 930,000, an increase of 41%!
How can a Minister be 41% out on figures he should know?
Got something to tell us Minister?
Of course it could also mean that Don Foster has figures which show that these additional 270,000 under occupying by 2 bedrooms or more are pensioners (a) with both partners over state pension age or (b) 180,000 both over state pension age and 90,000 mixed-age pensioners – yes the ones affected by the bedroom tax from April 2013 that the coalition is trying to deceive us by saying it wont affect when it clearly does.
Of course that also means we need to add these 90,000 to the original 660,000 to make 750,000 that we know are affected.
However the same CLG of which Don Foster is a minister released the EHS last week – yes the one in which they understated PRS tenants on HB by 61% - which said that the under-occupancy rate in social housing was 10% and the number of social tenancies was 3.8m which gives a figure of just 380,000 under-occupying! Confused yet?
Well the EHS uses the bedroom standard for under-occupation which is based on under-occupying by 2 bedrooms and so 380,000 in England alone would under-occupy by 2 bedrooms which is remarkably similar to the 390,000 that Don Foster mentioned isn’t it?
Oh I see so Don Foster has simple believed the utter tripe and flawed figures his own department put out in the EHS last week – yes that one that underestimates private claimants of housing benefit by 61%.
Does anybody know of a MP who could ask a written question which seeks to discover
1. How many social tenants under-occupy by 1 room
2. How many of them are fully working age
3. How many of them are mixed-age pensioner couples
4. The same three questions above for under-occupation by 2 bedrooms or more
Wow 2 years into the bedroom tax being announced and we still don’t know! Two years in and a Labour MP hasn’t asked the question!
You couldn’t make it up could you? Well…er..
Just for completeness heres the offening comment by Don Foster as found here in Hansard
“Mr Foster: My point is that the shadow Secretary of State failed to mention that 390,000 households have two or more spare bedrooms, while 278,000 households are overcrowded.”
Courtesy of Joe Halewood at SPeye