I started out this post with the intention to talk about the idiocy of the new UK “bedroom tax”, and the level of fear, misinformation and scaremongering that surrounds it. I have fully-employed friends who own their own houses outright who are debating selling because of “the bedroom tax” that will bring their monthly living expenses above a comfortable level. How have we managed to get to this point?
There’s a huge difference between what we are told and what we hear.
One of the most useful marital discussion tactics that Tim and I use is to talk about “what we heard” the other one say when things get a little heated. What we mean by that is the hidden subtext that our own fears and anger can put on an initially innocent comment. He might say, “I’d like to go out for a drink tonight”, where what I hear is “I need time away from you, you’re driving me nuts”. A world of difference between the two, but by saying it out loud, it allows me to say that maybe I’m feeling a bit insecure and need a little cherishing. The difference is mostly in the perception of the listener and depends upon so many external forces – have we spent time together recently? Have I got any reason to feel insecure? Do I just need a big bar of Fruit’n'Nut and a cup of tea?
But when we apply this strategy to how the public are hearing the government information about “the bedroom tax”, I do start to wonder about the subliminal messaging that everyone is getting at the moment. If you’ve read the information about this new fiscal policy, you’ll know that it applies mostly to those in social housing on low incomes (usually partly or fully unemployed) who get Housing Benefit. Don’t get me wrong, I think that those people often need a lot of help and taking this help away is going to kick a LOT of people when they are down, and continue to kick them long after they are homeless, unemployable and suicidal. I know that we need to stimulate the economy, but why can’t we do it by rewarding the workers, rather than punishing the unemployed? George Osborne seems to have forgotten that the stick can have a carrot on the end of it…
But the thing that *really* interests me is that what fully employed, home-owning citizens are *hearing* is “we’re going to tax you because your house is too big”. And people are angry about it, sure, but no-one is marching in the street like we did with the Poll Tax. People are *expecting* to be punished and are doing nothing about it, other than trying to figure out how to minimise the impact on themselves. People see nothing unusual in benefits being sanctioned, new and unfair taxes being levied, inflation increasing faster than the minimum wage and the breakup of the NHS. We are *expecting* to hear about new tax breaks for non-dom multinationals and multi-millionaire bankers. We no longer see anything unfair in the difference between the treatment of the rich, the workers and the poor (although the last two can often be bracketed together, these days).
My challenge to you today is not about your personal finances, but to make sure that you are informed about what is *really* happening in the big economic picture. Don’t trust the red-top newspapers for your information, read broadly and watch more than one news-source. It all has an influence on your financial situation. By keeping abreast of your information, you will be in a better position to make the right decisions about your financial future. Information is king!If you found this post helpful, please consider helping me to pay my hosting costs... Or a Nice Cup of Tea!