Fed disappointed over ‘bedroom tax’ result
The chief executive of the National Housing Federation has said it is ‘hugely disappointing’ that the government has succeeded in forcing its plans for a ‘bedroom tax’ through parliament.
The welfare reform bill completed its journey through parliament last night after crossbench peer Lord Richard Best dropped a last-ditch amendment.
The bill includes a controversial plan to reduce benefits for social housing tenants with one or more spare rooms. The plan would cost around 670,000 households an average of £14 per week, the government has estimated.
Many in the social housing sector, including the NHF, consider the plans a tax because in many parts of the country there are no available properties for people to downsize too. The government has also admitted it does not expect the majority of affected households to move. The House of Lords twice voted to water down the measure, but this was rejected by the Commons.
David Orr, chief executive of the NHF, said: ‘The bedroom tax will affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in social housing across the country.
‘That nearly 80 organisations, from disability charities to mortgage lenders, and peers and MPs of all parties, came together to limit its impact shows just how important this issue is.
‘It is hugely disappointing that the government has ignored our concerns and forced through this proposal.’
Lord Best tabled an amendment to the bill which would have committed the government to commission an independent review of the policy. This would assess the impact on families, poverty, homelessness, underoccupancy, rent arrears and the impact on council finances.
Lord David Freud, welfare reform minister, said the government will carry out research on the policy after it has been introduced, but said there was no need to put it in the bill itself.
Lord Freud said: ‘I look forward to discussing with him [Lord Best] the timing of any evaluation and those whom it covers.
‘Without wanting to pre-empt that discussion, I expect the evaluation to look at the effect on different groups such as families, and any wider effects that it may have on-for example-homelessness.’
Lord Best withdrew the amendment following Lord Freud’s comments.
The bill, which can now receive royal assent, also provides for the introduction of a universal credit and will cap total household benefits at £26,000 a year.