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Inside Out - The law of unintended consequences

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The bedroom tax and benefit cap are definitely going to have unintended consequences for families and local government.

Although the policy objectives - such as a focus on putting an end to scrounging and getting fluidity in our housing stock- are simple, the policies will hit vulnerable people unfairly. They will also place further burdens on local government, which are only partly offset by a few quid from the Department for Work & Pensions. Perhaps the most surprising result will be to put some courage back into local government.

Councils have already started to find ways to help residents. Nottingham and Leeds have reclassified two-bedroom properties as having one bedroom so that single people and couples don’t pay bedroom tax. Brighton will allow tenants to run up arrears, and Greenwich will give jobs to those residents who will suffer the most from the changes.

I can understand the motive for these initiatives, and I can see they each have drawbacks. But at least the councils are doing something driven by the interests of their voters.

My leader wants us to do something too. I think getting residents into work is the right option - and we can do seven times better than central government. London Councils has shown that schemes run by London boroughs have a success rate of 26% in getting the long-term unemployed into jobs. This compares with a success rate of 4% for DWP national schemes.

In terms of effectiveness and bang for every tax pound, will we see budgets and responsibility devolved from central to local government? I don’t think so.

We’re going to get nothing more from this government. Localism is empty. They have got rid of the minister for decentralisation, will not be responding to the first decentralisation report, or looking again at progress across central Whitehall on passing down responsibilities.

Perhaps as it should be, it will be down to us to carry on despite central government until common sense prevails.

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The one thing he won’t comment on is his identity…

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