Friday, 29 April 2016

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)

Comments are only open to subscribers of Inside Housing

Already a subscriber?

If you’re already a subscriber to Inside Housing, your subscription may not be linked to your online account. You can link your subscription from within the My Account section of the website and clicking on Link My Account.

Not yet a subscriber?

If you don't yet subscribe to Inside Housing, please visit our subscription page to view our various subscription packages.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

sign in register

Newsletter Sign-up



  • Call for funds to tackle empty homes

    3 February 2016

    The Scottish Government should set up a community grants programme to encourage more empty homes to be brought back into use, a partnership made up of housing experts has recommended.

  • Court rules bedroom tax is unlawful

    27 January 2016

    The bedroom tax unlawfully discriminates against domestic violence victims and disabled children, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

  • Bedroom tax tenants 'fail to downsize'

    18 December 2015

    Just 8% of tenants hit by the bedroom tax have moved to smaller properties, an official study commissioned by the government has found.

  • Stormont deal will nullify bedroom tax

    18 November 2015

    The bedroom tax will be introduced in Northern Ireland but fully mitigated for at least four years under an historic agreement to break political deadlock in the country.

  • Call for ringfenced empty homes fund

    15 September 2015

    A charity has called on the government to reinstate ringfenced pots of money for bringing empty homes back into use.

IH Subscription