Today’s PMQs. Mr. Jake Berry, Conservative member for Rossendale & Darwen, steps up to speak. Clearly, a question of grave import for the future of the kingdom is coming.
Jake Berry (Rossendale and Darwen) (Con):Leaving home before it is light and returning from work when it is dark, hard-working families in my constituency have a gross household income of just £25,000. Does my right hon. Friend think it right that their neighbours living on benefits currently earn more?
The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend makes an important point. Only this week we have yet again had a vote on our welfare benefits cap—which most people would see as generous at £26,000—and once again Labour has voted for unlimited welfare. We have long memories: we can remember that under Labour, some families were getting £70,000, £80,000, £90,000 or £100,000 of housing benefit. Labour did nothing about it because it believes in something for nothing.
The maximum weekly rent you can find in his Broad Rental Market Area, according to the Valuation Office Agency, is £415 or £21,580 annually. Well, perhaps he means that by claiming other benefits you might get there.
Well, no. Under the old rules, LHA was set at the 80th percentile rate for the class of property involved. Here is the data. The highest LHA payment in the most expensive bit of his patch is £150 a week, or £7,800 a year. You’d have to pull in £18,200 in benefits other than LHA to make this add up.
I submit that this is impossible. The most you can get in Working Tax Credit, for example, if yu benefit from the highest disability allowance, is £7,072. Assuming someone had kids under 18 to fill the maximum LHA four bedrooms and draw CTC, the highest-rate disability allowance on top of WTC, a job not paying enough to trip any of the means tests, I get to a theoretical maximum of £23,258, although I doubt this is realistic given the disability element. But I’m no Shelter case-worker, or other similarly competent woman. If you doubt me, here’s a challenge: why not present me a spreadsheet explaining how? There are supposedly a total of five households affected in London, where the LHA one bedroom rate is over three times what it is in Blackburn. What are the chances?
If Jake Berry has ever been to his constituency, I doubt he can possibly believe LHA rates are anywhere near what would be needed to make this piece of shit add up. I’ve been to Rossendale. Perhaps he hasn’t, but that’s out of style these days and he’s a scouser, so it’s not that far.
Jake Berry MP would say literally any damn thing the whips tell him. I wonder if he has any opinions on cake, crabs, or heavy electricity?