From the TUC

The Bedroom Tax

19 Feb 2013, by in Society & Welfare

It’s good that the politicians have picked up on the Bedroom Tax. In April – less than two months away – tenants in the social rented sector (essentially, Council or Housing Association) will face an extra restriction on the amount of Housing Benefit they can get. If they are deemed to have a ‘spare’ bedroom their HB will be cut by 14%, 25% if they are deemed to have two spare rooms, pensioners are excluded from this cut but other vulnerable groups are not and lone parents and disabled people will be very hard hit.

The government’s own Equality Impact Assessment, published last summer, calculated that 660,000 households will be affected, 31% of all working age HB claimants living in the social rented sector; on average, they will lose £14 a week (one hundred thousand will lose more than £20 a week). Joe Halewood has pointed out that these figures may be an under-estimate; he also notes that the average household has 2.4 people, so a good working figure for the number of people who will lose out is 1.6 million. The government’s figures show that most of those who lose out will be people without children living with them, but 150,000 will be lone parents – 21% of working age lone parents in socially rented housing will lose out.

The other big group of vulnerable people who are disproportionately likely to to lose out will be disabled people (using the Disability Discrimination Act definition of disability): disabled people make up 56% of all working age social rented sector tenants but 63% of those who will lose out. 420,000 disabled people will have their HB cut. There will be some protection for disabled people: an extra bedroom for a disabled adult who needs a non-resident overnight carer will not attract the bedroom tax, but people with impairments that stop couples or children from sharing a room or who need an extra room for equipment may be affected. Many of the people affected will have gone to immense trouble to get rooms (or the whole property) adapted, often spending thousands of their own savings. There is an increase in the Discretionary Housing Fund to mitigate this, but it is limited to one year, is limited to £30 million and is also expected to help foster carers who face this cut. Read this excellent post on the We Are Spartacus website for more information about how disabled people will be especially hard hit by this cut.

It is good that politicians have taken up this issue. It has forced the government onto the defensive and local news websites are beginning to report examples of the sort of people who will be hit by this cut:

  • The couple who may lose the bedroom that has become a ‘shrine’ to their son who died of cancer;
  • The couple who will lose the adjustments that help them cope with arthritis;
  • The mother who will lose HB because her son is serving in the army in Afghanistan;
  • The couple who can’t find a smaller property to move into (and the 4,700 families in Hull who will be chasing 73 smaller properties);
  • The woman who can’t take in a lodger because the bedrooms are simply too small for her daughters to share;
  • The carer who can’t share the special mattress for his wife’s spina bifida and so has to sleep in a separate room.

If you’re angry about this there are some things you can do. If you’re on Facebook, there’s a Facebook group. You can ask your MP to read We Are Spartacus’ Parliamentary briefing and there’s a Scrap Spare Bedroom Tax page on the Labour Party’s Campaign Engine Room site. I’ll add to this post as I learn about other initiatives.


7 Responses to The Bedroom Tax

  1. Ann Olner
    Feb 20th 2013, 12:43 am

    I am appalled at the stress that this bedroom tax is having on people who are on benefits. This week our grandsons are staying with us so that their mother can go to work to provide for their needs. There has been a lack of houses being built and in Salford and Manchester and many terraced houses have been demolished and new builds have not been started or completed for people to down size. The Government have not thought this through. They have two homes and have enough income to make choices. Perhaps we should have one bedroom bedsits for the days that they are attending Parliament. These could be built in a complex and save the taxpayer a lot of money.
    This tax is disgraceful when it also hits the disabled,elderly and widowed who cannot generate extra income and need these extra bedrooms. Shame on this Scrooge Government who are making people’s lives a misery, when through no fault of their own are on benefits.

  2. Sasson
    Feb 20th 2013, 10:04 am

    I really didn’t want to give up my HOME, but with my care package being cut (whilst I have to pay MORE), and facing overall cuts to disability benefits, in fact every single benefit or service I rely on, I didn’t know what to do.

    So when I was contacted about the bedroom tax, I asked my HA if their were any adapted single roomed properties for me to move into; they said that there weren’t, and it was extremely unlikely they would have any in the future. All the ‘advice’ I was given was how much I’m going to have to pay them, other than that they aren’t really doing anything for disabled tenants.

    Some may say that it’s only fair that homes with more bedrooms (I won’t say larger homes as mine is basically a ‘two up two’ down with a box room), and perhaps they are right. Nevertheless, if that was the case, the tax would apply to ALL social housing tenants WHATEVER their circumstances, but the government should also have made sure that suitably adapted properties for disabled people and one/two bedroomed homes were built BEFORE such a tax was implemented. Since the government has done neither, then one can only see it as an outright attack on the poorest in society.

    And M.P.s are only just ‘getting’ this?!!!! This has been in the news since 2010 when it was first announced. And forget DHPs, although it would be good for people to apply in order for the statistics to be released; apart from that, areas trialing the benefit cap have said they will run out of those funds 5 months into a year and that’s before the bedroom tax is implemented, so people can’t rely on that.

    The sad thing is that most people will do their utmost not to be evicted, which means many will just go without food AND heat, and for me, the extra care that I need to pay for privately. It’s the thought that this is going to continue for the rest of my life. I’m 50 this year, and haven’t had much of a life, but some young disabled people have NOTHING left to look forward to as most authorities have cut activities and only now provide basic care. For them on top of everything else the future looks very grim.

    And, to top it all, it WON’T solve the housing crisis or save money at all. No, the government would rather spend £1500 a week for bed and breakfast accommodation, than to allow a family to rent an appropriately sized house for 2/3 of the costs.

    I’m disgusted with this country. It gives tax breaks to the super rich whilst banning the poorest in society from having a couple of piddling small rooms extra (which they generally use).

  3. Sasson
    Feb 20th 2013, 10:12 am

    By the way Richard. I check this site every day, and yet again (I mentioned this before), every contributor is VERY quiet about the work programme, and I wondered why being that it’s been in the news so much?

    Really, unions across the country should be VERY concerned about the threat to their members’ livelihoods (people are already having their hours cut due to companies taking on workfare ’employees’), and apart from that, the fact that corporations are getting free labour, and that people are doing this workfare full time, which makes it hard for them to look for work.

    Please can we have some analytical articles on this subject?

  4. gerry whitwham ll.b.
    Feb 23rd 2013, 12:24 pm

    The so called bedroom tax appears to about as farcical as a second rate amateur comedy stage production.
    A typical tory benefits “grab-back” policy that may appear to be workable on paper but heaven knows how it could work in practice. the media have concluded that about 660,000 will be effected by this so called “tax” but in all probability the figure will be much higher than this. If this mediocre government wish a confrontatation with the electorate they appear to be heading in the right direction…… this whole scenario looks like generating a bigger stink than Thatcher’s (unlamented) poll tax.

    One thing I have noticed is that there is little mention of a challenge to this legislation by way of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights ( Right to Private anfd Family Life…. ) detractors from this idea will cite the fact that the UK goverment can opt out of certain human rights issues on various grounds… however such a challenge should never be ruled out ! ……..

  5. Tony urwin
    Feb 23rd 2013, 6:12 pm

    Do people who own there home or are working and dont claim benefits effected by this tax

  6. dusty miller
    Feb 24th 2013, 6:08 am

    I live in private rented accommodation and always have done because I chose not to buy a house or rely on social housing. Though don’t get me wrong I would like to cut my rent bill in half and have a swimming Poole installed in my garden, buy a house in Spain or purchase a brand new Mercedes. No I’m not being cynical or joking.. I am a commercial window cleaner and three years ago I was involved in a huge contract cleaning three bed and four bed council houses for Hampshire county council in the new forest area. The abuse I witnessed of the social housing sector was sickening. I cleaned the windows, window frames, fascia and soffits on two hundred and twenty houses, of those houses only six had children. All of the remaining houses had tenants who were in their late 40s to very elderly people living in them, some flaunting swimming pools, Mercedes Harley Davidson motor bikes etc. I’m not jealous, I just think a three or four bedroom house should be used by family’s that need them. Not hard working people like me that have outgrown their genuine need for such a home. I don’t think this tax will work based on the fact that these people I’m talking about will just pay it. Oh yes they will moan, probably even protest but the only people who will be harmed will be the people like foster carers etc. I think blatant abuse should be dealt with but I don’t know if this is the way. A Weymouth housing association, where I live has already started asking £100 per month extra for each empty bedroom. This information was gained by me from a housing assosiation tenant who was moaning to me that the benefits agency would not pay for this. This person was at work illegally whilst claiming sickness benefits and housing benefits. The system is a mess.

  7. Shelly Cullen
    Mar 6th 2013, 11:18 am

    Bedroom tax yet another way for this money grabbing out of touch government to take even more money from us the working class an drive us even more into poverty. David Cameron only likes the rich he takes from the poor an gives to the rich. My friend has 5 boys an has custody of her niece she an her partner work 5 jobs between them. They live in a 4 bedroom house she is being taxed on 3 rooms (they are classing the store room in the kitchen as a bedroom!) they sed her baby can share with her an her husband till he’s 10 an her 4 older boys an niece can share a too
    . This is sick the law always was that boys an girls couldn’t share now they are craning them into 1 room. Me an my partner are in a 2 bed house we have 2 boys an a 6month daughter. They have told me that our daughter can sleep in with us till she’s 10. This goes against my daughters and our human rights. Get rid of David Cameron an the conservatives they are vile selfish money grabbing snobs bring back labour they are for the working class.