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Scrap the bedroom tax, and regulate private rents

It is not often I agree with this government. But I do on one count: the housing benefit bill is clearly out of control and must be brought down.

Speaking at prime minister’s questions on 30 January 2013, David Cameron said “we are now spending as a country £23bn on housing benefit and we have to get that budget under control.” What I disagree with is his chosen solution to this problem.

The Government says the under-occupation penalty – aka the bedroom tax – will help contain expenditure on housing benefit, make better use of current social housing stock and encourage benefit claimants to find work and free up more social housing properties.

If we delve deeper into this immoral poll tax, it is apparent that the “solution” targets the vulnerable. It is driven by an ideological scrounger mentality and tars all housing benefit claimants in social housing with the same brush, implying it will resolve the housing benefit crisis overnight.

Around 660,000 will be subject to the penalty, which represents around 20% of social housing tenants. In parts of the north of England as many as 40% of social housing tenants will be affected.

Each of the following will be assumed to need no more than one bedroom:

  • An adult couple
  • Other adults aged 16 or over
  • Two children of the same sex aged under 16
  • Two children aged under 10 regardless of gender
  • Any other child under sixteen
  • A non-resident carer who occasionally stays the night

One spare room will result in a 14% reduction in your benefit. Two or more spare rooms will see a 25% cent reduction in your benefit. In Camden, where I am a local councillor, that equates to £15 and £27 per week on average respectively.

According to the Government’s own figures the best case scenario is that this will bring the housing benefit bill down from £23bn to somewhere between £22.48bn and £22.12bn. This is pitiful, especially if one takes into consideration the misery it will cause to hundreds of thousands of people.

The truth is that the giant portion of housing benefit ends up lining the pockets of landlords with huge buy-to-let portfolios. The latest census data shows that private rentals in inner London have grown close to 400,000.

If private landlords in inner London alone were persuaded to reduce their rents by the same average percentage of say 20%, the housing benefit bill would be reduced to £21.14bn which is a cool extra billion in savings on housing benefit every year. This saving would increase to £1.9bn if all private landlords in Greater London participated, and £4.9bn if this was extended to landlords in England and Wales.

Instead this Tory led Government chooses to reduce housing benefit paid to foster parents even if their spare bedroom is occupied by their foster children. That’s in preference of not rocking the boat for private landlords. Once again, same old Tories.

6 Comments

  1. Richard Holloway says:

    And how to you propose to persuade landlords to reduce their rent?
    What do you propose to do? Ask them nicely? Perhaps you should have done that with the bankers bonuses in 2009?

    Do you not think that a 20% reduction in landlords rent would cause them hardship as well? Landlords would also find it a lot more difficult to take action as a result of your proposal. A renter can move to a smaller flat, a landlord cannot be so agile with his or her properties.

  2. Robert says:

    A renter can move to a smaller Flat can they really, where?

  3. Vicky says:

    I was given a three bedroom house five years ago because of my severe anxiety, I’m willing to go to a one bedroom place but there is literaly nothing available.
    For me it’s either pay the “bedroom tax” or my gas and electric.
    If I don’t pay then I will be taken to court and could be evicted, plus I’d be taken off the housing list.
    If I do pay then I’d have to do without heating.
    If by some miracle a flat became available then where do I get the money to move house.

    This Nazi government hasn’t a clue how genuine people with physical dissabilities/ mental health issues or both like myself live.

  4. Beverley Taylor says:

    Ihave lived in my home for 30 years and brought 5 children up in it 4 years ago through no fault of my own i got CCN chronic charcot nervoisis it took my 3 1/2 years to get my disability I have to spend my time in a leg cast I am fortunate i can pay my bedroom tax out of my disability but the poor people on ESAwill be crucified and i haven t forgotten what it was like to have /315 left for food where would i have found another /£22 a weekj and my disability is not given to me for the government to take it back

  5. Bainser says:

    I have lived in my home for 27years, I was widowed just 5years ago. I have a small pension and have to rely on housing benefit of which I pay a portion out of my pension because the government say I need £71 a week to live on, I am 59years and will not be moving out of my home. What I object to is the harrassment I am getting from my local housing office, a letter hand delivered through my door, spelling out the “Bedroom Tax” (their words in the letter!) then asking me how I am going to pay it, then spelling out what will happen if I fall into arrears. Today I found a calling card through my letterbox from a housing assistant asking me to phone them re unoccupancy. Is there really any need to appear at peoples home without invitation, surely this is harrassment! I will just have to starve will I.

  6. vicky says:

    my home has been in my family for 58 years, i have been brought up here, lot of memories. although I haven’t lived here my whole 45 years, I did move back in 3 years ago when my nanna became ill. I looked after her for 2years and she passed last march, sadly. I overtook tenancy then, and have been unemplyed since. before the bedroom tax came along i have been getting full housing and council tax benefit. I also get £71 per week jsa. because I have 3 bedrooms and only myself in occupancy, I am supposed to pay £21.something a week. Also today, I received a letter saying I would not be getting full council tax benefit and they want £19 a month off me. HA I am laughing at this absurd situation. My landlord suggests they help me find a room to rent! Not going to happen, I am just going to have to starve and freeze to death!

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