Dodds: “Time the inhumane and ineffective consequences of bedroom tax are revisited in the rest of the UK”

Okay, ignore the Grauniad’s misidentification of Nigel Dodds as the leader of the DUP, and focus on the subject of the Op Ed…. In contrast to most of the political mudslinging that passes for politics in Westminster these days, the tone is incredibly relaxed and polite.

Before he gets to the main course, here’s the opener:

It’s a pity if the two – current – main parties can’t make themselves attractive enough to most voters, but it explains where we are.

I can’t claim the generation-long consensus between the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems over Northern Ireland has served the province well. But I acknowledge it exists. However, in the context of a hung parliament, it’s irrelevant.

While we, naturally, will always want the economic and social interests of the people of Northern Ireland as a whole protected, politically we would not seek to exploit for narrow and selfish reasons any leverage at Westminster over devolved matters.

That’s why we have Stormont and the power-sharing executive, to which we’re committed.

The Stormont House talks demonstrated once more that whatever turbulence parties like Sinn Féin might attempt to introduce with their threats to upend the process, we’re determined to make devolution and power-sharing work.

He makes it clear what the price is, and that it would be in a strictly UK wide context:

On social justice, we think Westminster can learn from what we did at Stormont over the bedroom tax. Despite the need – agreed across the political spectrum – to reduce public expenditure, we were determined that this failed policy should not be extended to Northern Ireland. It is time in the next parliament that the inhumane and ineffective consequences of the bedroom tax are revisited in the rest of the UK. [emphasis added]

It’s hard to describe the actions of any party in Northern Ireland as having an actual strategic impulse (although that does not stop many journalists and commentators from doing so). You need modest realisable targets for that, and a willingness to compromise.

But as a strictly tactical move, whilst Sinn Fein, as David notes, try to get back control the message in this debate, this looks like a measured and timely attempt to outbid any future pitches by Sinn Fein for a larger welfare budget.

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  • aber1991

    Please let there be no more of this socialist propaganda.

    There is no “bedroom tax” nor is such a thing mooted. The so-called “bedroom tax” is not a tax at all. It is an adjustment of social benefits- namely housing benefit. Why should the taxpayer foot the bill for another person’s housing needs if that person perceives his needs to include a palace or a mansion or a castle?

    The concept is not new. In the old days, when a person’s means tested social security benefit (known as “supplementary benefit”) included an element to meet the beneficiary’s housing costs, there were two restrictions on the amount payable. Both restrictions were a test of reasonableness. Is the rent reasonable for the accommodation? Is it reasonable for the beneficiary to be in such accommodation?

    If a social security beneficiary wants to live in a palace, I see no reason why the taxpayers should foot the bill for his opulent lifestyle.

  • murdockp

    To para phrase Megan Trainor ‘it’s all about the waste. The facts are northern ireland is awash with cash. £10870 per capita compared with a UK average of £8,788. When one considers we raise less tax than what we spend this is generous indeed

    But the waste and fraud is off the scale. I am sick of seeing fraudulent use of DDA badges in Newry or civil servants that society does not need.

    reform and cuts, (not to disabled kids or the vulnerable) but the fraudsters and civil service workshy are long, long overdue.

  • murdockp

    Has any one even considered that this will result in benefit tourism? Or will the good old NI civil service deny support to non NI citizens? Equality eh?

    If you are completely reliant on the state and don’t want to work, go live in NI

  • notimetoshine

    “reform and cuts, (not to disabled kids or the vulnerable) but the fraudsters and civil service workshy are long, long overdue”

    Great rhetoric, but what’s the costing? How much does disabled badge fraud cost ni? All very well and good with your emotive language about fraudsters and workshy but that sort of nonsense only clouds the debate regarding public spending?

    Fact is public expenditure is going to have to rise considerably to cover increased health and social care costs, and that either comes from cuts elsewhere or increased tax revenues?

  • murdockp

    £2000 per capita expenditure difference to the rest of the UK and you need evidence? Try mathematics

  • notimetoshine

    I don’t doubt we have far higher public spending, and civil service reform and downsizing has to happen. But to refer to them as workshy is just silly and clouds the issue. We just have too many for various historical reasons. My only concern is that our private sector isn’t currently big enough to support an economy with lower public sector spending and employment. Hard times ahead.

    And I’d be interested to know how much fraud contributes to that 2000.

    Problem is people in NI seem very adverse to change. Look at the carry on in Newry for example regarding stroke services being moved to Craigavon. Or indeed inefficiencies in education.

    Though I believe our security spending is quite high in comparison with the rest of the uk.

  • Practically_Family

    If that was your intent the Republic would make a great deal more sense. It might even be worth the cost of moving.

  • Surveyor

    You mean the landlord’s opulent lifestyle don’t you?

  • Framer

    We have.

  • kalista63

    The bru is way more down there, including the infamous medical card.

  • kalista63

    Nice one. Right to buy was a money pig for buck eejit’s with an opportune windfall to screw the state. If housing benefit is the issue, cancel right to buy and build/aquire more public housing.

  • Sp12

    Judging by the figures compiled by the Guardian the south is the preferred destination, UK citizens claiming unemployment benefits in the Republic of Ireland stands at 11,222 compared to 2,620 RoI citizens claiming JSA in the UK.
    The number of UK citizens claiming benefits in the RoI is the largest in the EU, second only to Polish citizens claiming JSA in the UK.

    http://static.guim.co.uk/ni/1418312656641/EU_Unemployment_Datablog_do.svg

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I think Dodds is coming into his own at the moment. He is being courted by the 2 main parties nationally and may be enjoying surprising them with how smart and flexible he can be. He has an intellect to match almost any in Parliament – a Cambridge First is not easy to come by. And as Salmon of Data showed recently (http://sluggerotoole.com/2015/02/22/you-cant-mistake-ideology-the-way-mps-talk-the-way-that-they-walk/) Dodds is economically to the left of both Mark Durkan and Naomi Long, though more civil libertarian than them. I suspect both parties may be finding him quite an interesting bloke to parlay with just now.

  • Neil

    may be enjoying surprising them with how smart and flexible he can be.

    I found his Guardian piece to be worryingly reasonable. From a Republican point of view I much prefer Robinson.

  • Dan

    Given it’s in his constituency, I’d like Dodds to ensure the houses in the new housing development on the Felden site are allocated fairly and the new residents representative of all sections of the community.
    Kelly seems to think it’s his to turn into another little sectarian Sinn Fein voting enclave,

  • Biftergreenthumb

    Are you seriously suggesting that people who claim housing benefit live in palaces, mansions and castles?

  • aber1991

    Some live in houses which could not be afforded by people who work for a living.

  • WindsorRocker

    Thing is when you boil it down to national issues, most DUP MPs would be at home in one of the main 3 parties. It’s when you start introducing parochial issues to the debate that things go awry.