Well it’s a new year, but it’s the same old same old here this week, with me banging on my pintsized drumkit about the bedroom tax, which surely has to be riding top of those in charge’s ‘sorry we ever tabled this’ chart.
It really is the daft hat idea which keeps on giving. And then offering one more for the road.
So what’s this week’s gift?
It seems David Caterpillar, George Ostrich, Iain Duncan Silkworm and their associated sideboard members only went and missed a whopping great loophole when they were putting their idea to charge people who had a spare room (their life didn’t depend on), down on paper.
I for one could not believe it.
I mean they’re usually so great at thinking things through before they pile-drive into people’s lives like Daddy Dog (of Peppa Pig fame) and his digger when he’s had too many dental chews.
Anyway as far as this latest shambles example goes and as I understand it, the people who wrote the book on the bedroom tax (which probably isn’t going to win any literary awards) failed to notice that there was another book about people who live in social housing, which had been written all the way back in 1996, when my Dad was doing his big school exams.
That book basically protects anyone who has lived in their house non-stop since then - and had their rent topped up by the public purse throughout - from the big bad bedroom tax.
And because no one bothered to read it before they started docking housing benefit like it was going out if fashion, the DWP (I’m assuming this stands for the Department for Wallies and Pillocks) may now have to pay them back.
Not only that, but some of the people who they’ll be refunding will have, quite rightly I’m sure, been given emergency money to help them deal with the new shortfall they were facing, courtesy of the bedroom tax...and these payments will not have to be paid back.
So basically, if these people get the bedroom tax refund they’re entitled to, they could actually find themselves in profit from the whole sorry saga.
Like I said, this really is the tax that keeps on giving.
Trouble is though, back in the nineties, apparently paper files were all the rage rather than the memories of computers, so you can bet your sweet patoot that it will be up to the people affected to seek out their refund, rather than the councils to proactively contact those who qualify for it.
Let’s hope they have more scruples than me, although I wouldn’t bet my Disney princess castle (doubling as a toy cupboard since Christmas) on it.
I certainly wouldn’t tap Big Bro Fred on the shoulder to tell him I’d mistakenly eaten his share of the Malteser spoils… if he doesn’t notice, it’s his bad luck, right?
One can only pray to Igglepiggle that the existence of this loophole (set to be closed up in the not too distant, so expect another bedroom-tax-themed column to be coming your way soon) is given a pramful of easy-to-understand publicity so that anyone who might be able to claim some money back knows about it.
Meanwhile I’m keeping everything crossed that the percentage of the 40,000 people affected by the bedroom tax in the North East, who qualify to get some cash back are realigious readers of my column and get the ball rolling on Monday.
Amen to that.