Politics Assessment: The package

Here’s my package on Cornwall’s views on the so-called ‘bedroom tax’:

(It’s conveniently split into two which means you have time to go and make yourself a nice cup of tea before you listen to the second half.)

Editorial choices:

  • Longer, yet relevant quotes to allow my interview subjects to tell the story. Yes, it runs the risk of sounding rambling and boring, but I’d like to think the clips I chose are interesting, informative and where appropriate, emotive.
  • Music and SFX. I took a gamble in using music to run through my package. It’s something I’ve never done before and I was aware it could prove distracting or even cheesy. I’m pleased with the outcome, however, and think it brings out the best of the clips and adds plenty of drama. The main reason I used it was to move the story on in an interesting manner. Six minutes is a relatively long time for my audience to sit listening to the story, so I hoped this – along with the clips from the protest – would add that extra bit of interest.
  • A strong focus on how the issue will affect locals. This package is aimed at a Radio Cornwall audience, so I made sure I spoke to relevant people from the county (protesters), along with Cornish politicians who spend much of their time down here, as opposed to Westminster. I reigned the national story in from how the changes (to all welfare benefits) will affect those on benefits, to how it could impact those claiming housing benefit in Cornwall – with a particular focus on the Camborne area.

The triumphs:osborne happy

  • The interviews: They all went smoothly, and all of my subjects were helpful and provided plenty of good talking points – particularly George Eustice who spoke of elderly people who “continue to hog houses that are too big for them”.
  • The protest: As luck would have it, there was an anti-bedroom tax protest staged in Camborne in March. I went along and picked up some interviews and lots of SFX.
  • Being organised: As I’d planned my story well in advance I knew from the start who I needed to speak to and what I wanted to ask them. I then felt relatively confident that I could put together a decent package.

The catastrophes:Osborne sad

  • Sabotage by computer: An error message appeared on my computer, followed by the blue screen of death, the very second I’d just laid down my final clip. I had no choice but to force a shut down. Fortunately I’d been saving my project as I’d gone along, so I only had to re-do a small part of my piece. Annoying all the same though.
  • The M-Audio: Always a bit of a trouble-maker and the quality of the recordings isn’t great – spending ages de-essing and getting rid of static is not fun. I guess you know by now that I don’t rate it much.

Do you feel more informed about the changes to benefits as a result of listening to this radio package? Leave your comments on the form below:

‘Bedroom Tax’: The story

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Changes to housing and council tax benefit – or the ‘bedroom tax’ as it’s more commonly known – came into action on April 1.

So what does this all mean?

Many social housing tenants living in properties deemed too large for them will have their housing benefit payments cut. Under the reforms, this is likely to affect about 3,000 people in Cornwall alone.

Why is this happening?

Well, the government wants to end what it calls the “spare room subsidy” for social tenants. It hopes the “under-occupancy changes” will shave £500m off the nation’s benefits bill.

That’s fair enough, some might say. Those living in a house with spare rooms and claiming benefits should move into something smaller. But is there enough social housing in Cornwall for people to relocate? The simple answer is no. And people are worried – so much so that the internet’s abuzz with interactive surveys and quizzes which calculate just how better or worse off you’ll be. Take this “bedroom tax” calculator for example.

With thousands of people having demonstrated across the country – two protests were held in Cornwall – the reform is proving unpopular among many.

Lots of people aren’t content with the 1p off a pint peace-offering the Chancellor made in his annual Budget. Or the tax relief on childcare (apparently starting in 2015.) No, these individuals took to the streets, armed with placards and banners, chanting “axe, axe the bedroom tax,” and encouraging passing traffic to honk if they support. Plenty did.

First and foremost, I aimed to gather the opinions of protesters, as well as those who support the changes, and those who don’t. This should allow me to form a script and keep my package balanced.

I’ve spoken to protest organisers from Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance, and have interviews lined up with George Eustice, Conservative MP for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle, and Jude Robinson, Labour Councillor for Camborne North.

Will you be affected by the Government’s housing benefit reforms? Let me know what it means to you using the form below.