The Bedroom tax- a few thoughts.

I wrote this short piece before the bedroom tax came into effect and, of course, all of our fears proved right and more…What is more, the stated desired outcome has not even been met- worth bearing in mind as the tories propose another £12billion cuts in benefits. Whatever they propose, however harsh they are, these cuts might not even achieve the intended savings….. (30/03/15)

As the implementation of the Bedroom Tax- sorry, the under-occupancy housing benefit rule in the public sector- looms ever closer, the number of protests and objections suddenly multiply and begin to fill the pages of the press, the screens on our TV news. Individual examples of hardship are wheeled out and we all gasp (well most of us) at the consequences to individuals and families of the new legislation. And so the government responds in two ways. 1) Local government has been given a “hardship” fund to support people who are hard done by and 2) by making a few concessions to a small group of people.

My objection to the bedroom Tax- for that is what it is; a reduction of income – is the principle of the thing. It makes no sense, will cause hardship to many AND it will not achieve the stated aim: reducing the welfare benefit bill.

A few points:

  • A single person, living in a 2 bedroom public sector flat may be forced to move to the private sector in order to obtain a 1 bedroom flat. The rent-and the |Housing benefit payable- may well be higher. Adding to the Housing Benefit bill
  • There is a shortage of ir 1 bedroom accommodation already
  • Presumably the government’s aim is to reduce overall spending. Have they taken into account the additional burden on social services, schools, local housing authorities and even job centres? I suspect not.
  • Public sector housing already has the power to deal with under-occupancy of its accommodation. Provided they can show that they have offered suitable accommodation they can apply to the court to repossess their home. Why is this not used much? Because the shortage of appropriate accommodation.

My objection to the bedroom tax can be summed up quite succinctly: 1) It does not achieve what the government states it will achieve, 2) the hardship caused is therefore unnecessary and indeed pointless.?

My answer to this problem is as always:

  • Bring in a Living Wage so that major employers pay a fair wage which will take more people out of in-work benefits
  • Bring back rent control in the private sector. As the number of people able to buy their own home decreases, the private- rented  sector needs to be made more affordable and more secure.

Beware: the Bedroom tax is not the only changes being introduced  We need to oppose these cuts too. And now.


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