Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

House of Comments - Episode 46 - The Future of the NHS

Episode 46 of the House of Comments podcast "The Future of the NHS" was recorded on Sunday and is out today. This week myself and Emma Burnell were joined by Guardian writer Ellie Mae O'Hagan to discuss Chris Huhne's resignation and the ensuing Eastleigh by-election, the future of the NHS in the light of the Francis Inquiry into the failings at Stafford Hospital and the reduction in benefits based on rooms in houses that I refuse to call the "bedroom tax"!

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here (note - this is a new feed so if you used to subscribe to the old feed a couple of years ago you'll need to do so again).

Other podcasting software e.g. for Android can be pointed here to subscribe.

You can download the mp3 for the latest episode directly from here.

Or you can listen to the embedded episode below here:

If you are a political blogger and wish to be considered as a future guest please drop me an e-mail at

Any feedback welcomed in the comments below.

PS: A big thanks to Audioboo for hosting the podcast for us and especially to Audioboo's James O'Malley who has helped us out getting relaunched. James is also editor of The Pod Delusion podcast which is about "interesting things" and is well worth a listen too! We would also like to thank Kevin MacLeod from for our theme music.


martijn said...

As always, it's been a pleasure to listen to. And, you're so spot on about the NHS.

It's also good to keep in mind that many other countries have system that work quite differently than the system in Britain. Some of these have privatised significant parts of the health care. In some of these countries health care is working quite well.

Tom (iow) said...

In defence of the term 'bedroom tax':

I think everyone realises it's not a literal tax. But it has certain qualities that make it more arbitrary and punitive than most benefit reductions.

There has long been a system to limit rent in the private sector based on occupation and need, called the LHA. Although it can be somewhat unfair at times, no-one ever called it a tax, because it limits everyone's claimable rent to the same figure if they are in the same situation.

The bedroom tax on the other hand doesn't just ask you to make up the difference between your rent and a fair rent. It takes away a percentage of your benefit per bedroom.

If the LHA had been applied to social sector tenancies instead of the bedroom tax, it would have still met the goal of limiting claimable rent to what the claimant needed. But this wouldn't have saved as much money as the BT will on the face of it. The BT will cut people's entitlement below what they could claim in the private sector. People may therefore actually be able to avoid it by moving into more expensive private accomadation, where the whole rent may be paid if it's at a fair level, even if this is above the claimant's previous rent with the extra bedroom. For example C is paying £100 a week for her 2-bedroom social property. With the BT her HB is cut to £86, so she moves into a one bedroom private property and can claim the whole £106 a week rent.

Even worse, as it takes off a fixed 14% for the first bedroom, someone in a three bedroom property entitled to only two bedrooms may end up with lower housing benefit than if they were actually in a a two bedroom social property, as is the case in this area by the look of it:

Why couldn't the HB in this example simply be limited to the level for a two-bedroom place?

Comapred to the somewhat fairer LHA, this system is more like a tax and less like a benefit limit - especially if you see benefits as a form of negative taxation.