Friday, 18 April 2014

Homes 'standing empty' because of bedroom tax

The shadow work and pensions secretary has claimed homes are being left empty because of the bedroom tax, and called for the controversial policy to be axed.

Speaking in parliament this week, Liam Byrne said three-bedroom homes ‘in places like the north east’ are being left vacant because the under-occupation penalty means families on housing benefit cannot afford the rent.

Addressing work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, he said: ‘There are now 53,000 households in our country being put up in temporary accommodation, which is costing the taxpayer billions of pounds.

‘When will he admit the truth: the hated bedroom tax now costs more than it saved? It is time to scrap it, and scrap it for good.’

Mr Duncan Smith said councils have received funding for discretionary housing payments, which can be used to help families hit by the government’s welfare reforms, including the bedroom tax.

He said councils have three years’ worth of DHPs, but it is up to them how they are spent. ‘They can top up the money if they wish,’ he said.

William Bain, Labour MP for Glasgow North East, said applications for discretionary housing payments in the city are up 338 per cent in a month.

Under the bedroom tax, working age social tenants who are on housing benefit have their payments cut if they are deemed to be under-occupying their home. Research carried out by Inside Housing since the launch of the policy on 1 April has shown a surge in demand for DHPs.

Reports also suggest tenants are already falling behind on rent payments as a result of the bedroom tax, with as many as 50 per cent failing to cover the shortfall in rent that has arisen as a result of the penalty in some areas.

Readers' comments (27)

  • Surely the obvious solution is to convert some of the larger houses for which demand has dropped into self-contained one and two bedroom flats for which demand has increased due to the bedroom tax?

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  • Melvin Bone

    'William Bain, Labour MP for Glasgow North East, said applications for discretionary housing payments in the city are up 338 per cent in a month.'

    The fact there are more applications means nothing. The information we need is how many people apply and get a DHP and how many apply and don't qualify but would have if they had applied last year.

    Eric Pickles could aply to be an astronaut but he would never qualify...

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  • John your propsal could work, but at a cost - the tax is supposed to save money.

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  • michael barratt

    In the end the bedroom tax may have little to do with under occupancy, rather more with finishing off the destruction of social housing and specifically council housing. All main political parties have done their level best to destroy the institution of council housing and bring about the end to secure ‘for life’ tenancies.

    This Coalition has gone the whole hog:

    Secure tenancies are increasing being replaced by fixed term tenancies of up to 5 years then off to enjoy the tender mercies of the private sector.

    Promotion of up to 80% of market value rents in respect to frequently over priced housing:

    Attempts to degrade ‘need’ as a housing priority:

    Capping housing benefits thereby forcing Londoners and other inner city residents out of where many have lived all their lives and in areas where frequently their families have lived for generations.

    Introduced a bedroom tax that penalises individuals and families for doing nothing other than live in the same home often for many decades. The bedroom tax is a measure that intentionally creates debt and simplifies evictions without the need to offer alternative social housing accommodation

    Why do they go to these lengths?

    Just as tax credits have subsidised the private sector, i.e. supermarkets and the service sector by removing a requirement to pay a living wage. There is arguably a Coalition attempt underway to replace the Institution social housing with private sector landlords who are subsidised by the benefit system.

    Just as job security has been replaced with ‘flexible’ working conditions including under employment and zero hours working conditions, the Coalition is well on the way to introducing the same insecurity into the home, particularly the homes of those performing routine work or have a limited capacity to work.

    By removing council tenants from inner London areas the affluent no longer will live cheek to jowl with the ‘plebs’.


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  • Colin McCulloch

    Yet Byrne and Labour will not commit to repealing the under occupancy rules from Housing Benefit and the new Universal Credit. Put your (our) money where your mouth is, Mr Byrne.

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  • Indeed Colin - but how on earth could Liam commit to spending any money - when he told the nation in writing that "there is no more money"?

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  • SER YEK

    michael barratt | 22/05/2013 10:33 am. Well written sir. Each element of your comment accurately reflects the situation.

    However, it goes without saying the smirking sneering DC & Co will have the gall to use their buzz sound bite of "Fairness to help hard working families".

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  • Trevor Galley

    Interesting comment from Micheal - the bedroom may well contribute to the end of social housing and specifically council housing as we know it.........

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  • Progressive Solutions Required

    To any Homeless Assessment Officers out there.

    If a social tenant quit the home they were over occupying and presented to you as homeless, would they be considered intentionally so or recognised as in housing need and so put into temporary accomodation?

    To any Lettings Officers:

    If the same tenant applied for housing would they be considered adequately housed or in housing need?

    To any Swivel Eyed Loons:

    If the first instance is intentionally homeless and the second instance adequately housed then how can your bedroomtax be fair, especially if it is now increasing not only the benefit bill but the extent of vacant homes?

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  • Bedroom Tax hasn't caused these properties to be empty, some of these properties have been empty for years. I am not a fan of the 'Bedroom Taxt' but to blame empty homes on 'Bedroom Tax' is not correct

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