Probably not a bad idea this “bedroom tax”. Could actually get this deficit under control a lot sooner than expected. The problem of course is that a fair tax should be levied on all.
Were we all truly in it together then indeed a bedroom tax might equate quite accurately to the ability to pay. Having a five-bedroom property myself and only one child still at home, I would clearly suffer, but I would accept a genuinely fair approach to deficit reduction.
Of course fairness is the last thing on this government’s mind, and sadly ministers will reflect the views of a substantial part of the electorate, who will remain largely comfortable and unaffected by such cuts. So we increase the burden on those who can least afford it and even laugh at the possibility that such people might actually have friends and relations who would visit them.
The fact that today I hear the politicians trying to justify this tax as fair is just sickening. I do hope that many will look at this regressive attack on the poorest and most vulnerable in our society and, like me, feel utterly ashamed that a purportedly civilised society as ours can resort to such bullying and grossly iniquitous policies.
Philip Brown, Bridekirk, Cumbria
So Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps has converted one of the four bedrooms in the family home into a study. Surely, he has provided the solution to those who are now subject to the “bedroom tax”.
If you are in social housing and have been deemed to have a spare room, convert it into a study by removing the bed, and use that study regularly. With all the extra learning the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, is advocating in his “back to basics” national curriculum, the a study used by school pupils can hardly be called “spare”.
Dr David Bartlett, Ilkley, West Yorkshire
I find myself consumed with envy, not of their six-figure ministerial salaries, nor their million pound houses, but the sheer integrity, forcefulness, and thrift of Mr Shapps and Mr Duncan Smith, that the one can insist his sons share a bedroom so he can enjoy his right to an office at home as well as at work, and the other can economise so tightly as to be able to live on £53 a week.
Truly, our rulers are in a class – or is it a world? – of their own.
The Rev Richard Haggis, Oxford
We have been living in economic cloud-cuckoo land for the last half-century. This “crisis” is no such thing: it is the new norm in the light of the world’s shrinking resources and mushrooming population, and things will only get worse. To relate this to everyday realities, perhaps the “bedroom tax” will oblige people to start taking lodgers again, and perhaps that is no bad thing.
Venetia Caine, Glastonbury, Somerset
Burning question in a gas crisis
Terry Duncan’s idea of returning to coal gas (letter, 25 March) is interesting, but impossible. Coal gas is a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen: natural gas is methane. The two have very different burning properties, and need either considerable adjustment to the burners, or their complete replacement.
Perhaps Mr Duncan is too young to remember the changeover from coal gas to natural gas. I am not. It meant that a trained gas fitter had to visit every installation in the country to carry out the conversion, if possible. In many cases it was not, and the unfortunate consumer had to throw away what had been a perfectly good appliance and replace it, at some expense.
Frank Wood, London W13
Mike Joslin, (letter, 25 March) blames lack of gas storage on the Government. The gas companies, not the Government, are responsible for the storage of gas and they have failed to keep pace with the change in supply and demand triggered by the running down of our North Sea reserves.
What is more likely is that the gas companies have deliberately delayed spending this essential money, thus creating the current situation, to pressure Government into subsidising new installations with taxpayers’ money, something that I predict will soon happen.
What is needed is for the Government to force gas companies into doing what they should have done years ago and prohibit them to from passing the cost on to the consumer. This would also reduce the profit they could salt away in their overseas coffers.
David Jackson, Birkenhead
Cut out the banks
If the economy is in trouble because the banks are not lending, and the banks are not lending because they are hoarding all the cash that the Bank of England keeps giving them, why not cut out the banks and give it directly to the long-suffering people?
Instead of throwing another £50bn shot of quantitative easing at the banks, whose many failings are the cause of this crisis, you could afford to give every household in the land £2,500 instead. And if you provided it in the form of a date-limited smart card, you’d guarantee that the money went directly into the economy.
The economy would get a jump-start from the injection of cash, the Government would benefit from a huge feel-good factor, and the politician who announced it would win the next election. What’s not to like?
Simon Prentis, Cheltenham
New NHS will focus on profit
Andrew Lansley’s letter to Clinical Commissioning Groups (16 February 2012) stated: “It is a fundamental principle of the Bill that you as commissioners should decide when and how competition should be used to serve your patients’ interests.” It is now clear this was just a sham to reassure those who felt uneasy about his unnecessary and unwanted legislation at a time when the Health Bill was in political peril.
The recent section 75 regulations, laying out the rules NHS commissioners will have to follow, were written in a way that meant commissioning GPs would have to offer all NHS services through a competitive tendering process on the open market.
After widespread protests, the Coalition claims to have amended the regulations, but it is clear that they remain just as dangerous as the original version. They still betray ministerial assurances that CCGs would be free to commission as they see fit. CCGs will be forced to put all services out to tender in order to avoid costly and complex legal challenges.
Under these regulations the NHS will become a franchising business with profit-seeking companies bidding for multi million pound contracts and delivering them from behind the much-trusted NHS logo. They will be able to hide details of their contracts using the excuse of “commercial confidentiality”, thus allowing no public scrutiny of the use of taxpayers’ money. They will also cherry-pick the easy and profitable parts of the health service while undermining core NHS provision.
The new NHS from 1 April will be focused on money and maximising profits from misery and illness. It is not an NHS we recognise or want in England and we call for a return to a publicly funded, publicly provided and publicly accountable English NHS.
Dr David Wrigley
Professor Clare Gerada
Professor Martin McKee
Professor John Guillebaud
Clive A Stafford Smith
Dr Jacky Davis
Dr Clive Peedell
Owen Jones (1 April) is right that there has been a silent conspiracy in the murder of the NHS. Not only have the media been silent, but GPs as well. With a few honourable exceptions, their silence has been deafening. Whereas the media may be silent because they have private health insurance, the doctors have seen an opportunity to make money by setting up their own companies to bid for the provision of services.
The natural behaviour of piranhas is as nothing compared to the feeding frenzy on the corpse of the NHS. I await the public outcry when voters find they cannot get access to the treatments they require.
Lesley Cogan, Wickford, Essex
Britain’s exit from India
Edward Pearce (letter, 26 March) is quite right about India and indeed Mountbatten. Indian independence was not just part of Labour’s manifesto in 1945. The wartime coalition had already made a public commitment to it.
The natural Viceroy was Sir John Anderson, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer and the one cabinet colleague Churchill looked on as an equal. He had been Governor of Bengal, surviving two assassination attempts. However Anderson had just lost his wife and had remarried, to a much younger RAF widow. She was not regarded as being Vicereine material. Maybe, but would she, like Mountbatten’s Vicereine, have slept with leading figures in the Indian Congress party?
Robert Davies, London SE3
Jabba the Hutt’s ancient ‘mosque’
You report that Muslims have been angered by a Lego version of Jabba the Hutt’s palace looking similar to the Hagia Sophia “mosque” (1 April). This splendid building is not now a mosque nor was it originally built as one.
A Byzantine basilica, it was completed in AD 537 and was converted to use as a mosque in 1453 following the fall of Constantinople. Muslim/Christian relationships were much more tolerant then, as Mehmet the Conqueror ordered minimal changes and the original mosaic decoration has been preserved. In 1934 it changed use again to a magnificent museum, which it still is.
Michael Watson, Norwich
The people of Cyprus should be grateful for their good fortune. They have only had 20 per cent removed from their assets and only if they have a bank account over €100,000. We, in Britain, have had 25 per cent taken from us by inflation and it applies to all of us, rich and poor and regardless of how little we have in the bank or whether we keep it in a shoebox under the bed.
John Day, Port Solent, Hampshire
Rewards of office
Steve Richards (28 March) refers to several former Labour ministers being “more powerful and wealthy when they leave their elected posts”. Maybe this sort of advancement contributes towards voter’s attitudes in “this anti-politics era”.
John Pinkerton, Milton Keynes