In the wake of revelations that Local Authorities will be allowed to classify dining rooms as “bedrooms” for the purposes of the so-called “Bedroom Tax”, the Coalition has moved to clarify the position still further.
A Government spokesman who wished to remain anonymous, but who is in fact Iain Ferkin-Scheidt (pictured below) was quoted today as saying:
“Social housing tenants need to be clear about this. Any room that can be deemed superfluous to the requirements of a Housing Benefit claimant should be counted as a “bedroom” for these purposes – for example a dining-room, conservatory and so forth. I believe that some of you people still have what they used to call “parlours” – and yes, they can be defined as bedrooms too. This will be a matter for Local Authorities’ discretion, but they will need to justify their decisions to High Command.” Going a little purple around the jowls, Mr Ferkin-Scheidt went on: “We have to be very, very careful about terminology here. This is not a “bedroom tax”, it is a Spare Room Subsidy. The Prime Minister himself, long may he reign, has stated this. We want to make it quite clear that this is a measure aimed at shirkers, not workers. Lame excuses such as disability – if you’ll pardon the pun – simply will not wash; much as is the case with most of the frightful common types we’re aiming at here.”
When asked about the fact that many Housing Benefit claimants are actually workers in low-paid employment, Mr Ferkin-Scheidt remained bullish in his defence of policy. “It’s quite simple,” he explained kindly. “Those people on Housing Benefit cannot expect the rest of us to subsidise luxuries for them such as spare bedrooms and parlours and dining rooms or what-have-you, out of our taxes – particularly as many of us will actually be paying up to £100,000 a year less tax from April. As you can see from that figure alone, the country simply cannot sustain extravagance on this scale.
“Those who have failed to provide for themselves and their families, by obtaining only part-time or low-paid employment will have to accept that they are not deserving of the same privileges as good, honest, hard-working, tax-evading, Tory-voting people who bought their own Council Houses in the 80’s when St Margaret was Queen. We shall be taking further measures to ensure that this distinction is recognised, and to remove the burden of financial responsibility from the over-stretched rich. The fact is that the poor, the disabled and the long-term sick have had it easy for far, far too long now. I am currently studying proposals for what some are already calling a “Hot Tap Tax”, although it is in fact a heated water subsidy. Some of us feel – in all compassion and sincerity – that it is an unconscionable luxury for the Shirking Classes to have hot water on tap, and it may well be that Housing Benefit claimants who live in homes with hot running water, showers, flush toilets and so on and so forth, will at some point in the future be subjected to a further cut of 30% in their Benefit, unless they take up the option of moving to a smaller property, with a stand-pipe, and outdoor privy and a well. We are determined to bring the good old days back to this great country.”
Pressed further on the matter of future proposals along these lines, Mr Ferkin-Scheidt refused to reveal any more concrete details, but promised a fuller statement after the second reading of the new “Workhouses & Treadmills Bill” currently proceeding through the House of Lords.
“This Government is pledged to firm, decisive action,” he confirmed. “Did your great-great-great grandmother have hot running water? No, of course she didn’t, and neither did mine – although she did have staff to carry heated water up eight flights of stairs for her – but that’s to become tied up in detail. There’s fridges, too, and all those nasty wide-screen TV’s. Did Sir Winston’s mother have a fridge? Or a 42” LCD TV? And, look – let’s be totally honest here. Ice can be chipped from a frozen well, and allowed to melt. Cold water can then be heated for all the simpler needs of the sub-strata of society, and a short walk down the street to a shared privy never killed anybody, except a few disease-ridden ne’er-do-wells who were never going to become economically productive units anyway. Hot water and indoor flush toilets are privileges, not rights – and we are determined that the Party of Privilege shall live up to its traditions and ensure that people are once again well aware of their place in life.”
Mr. Ferkin-Scheidt is 104.