Thursday, 02 October 2014

IDS's think tank calls for changes to bedroom tax

The boss of the think tank set up by work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has called for changes to the government’s controversial ‘bedroom tax’.

In a move that is likely to cause embarrassment to Mr Duncan Smith, the managing director of the Centre for Social Justice, Christian Guy, has said that he would like to see the government’s under-occupation penalty altered so that it is fairer.

Speaking at the National Housing Federation’s leadership forum last week Mr Guy told delegates from the housing sector he thought people should only have to pay the penalty if they had turned down a suitable downsizing offer.

He added that he thought it was ‘odd’ that pensioners are exempt from the policy.

He also conceded that there were ‘weaknesses’ in the policy and said that the CSJ recognised the extra social costs that the bedroom tax could cause.

Mr Duncan Smith set up the CSJ in 2004 after visiting deprived areas and being appalled by the level of benefits dependency in Britain. The right-leaning think tank has been very influential on the government’s thinking behind its welfare reforms.

One of the more controversial reforms has been the introduction of the social housing size criteria, commonly known as the ‘bedroom tax’, under which social tenants of working age with a spare room will have their housing benefit cut from 1 April

Mr Guy’s comments were interpreted as the CSJ campaigning for change by cross bench peer Lord Best at the Chartered Institute of Housing south east conference yesterday. 

Lord Best told delegates: ‘Nobody has this available stock of smaller properties to which people can readily move. This is the problem.

‘The CSJ, which is Iain Duncan Smith’s own think tank, they have campaigned for a change to the bedroom tax so that where people have been made a reasonable offer of somewhere to move to and they refused to do that - they then pay the tax. Where there is no offer to move and there is no choice, then they don’t have to pay the tax.’

Readers' comments (29)

  • ManWithAbacus

    Why don't the housing associations that were supposed to be responsible for managing the under occupancy positions pay the bedroom tax instead of tenants?

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  • Colin McCulloch

    ‘The CSJ, which is Iain Duncan Smith’s own think tank, they have campaigned for a change to the bedroom tax so that where people have been made a reasonable offer of somewhere to move to and they refused to do that - they then pay the tax. Where there is no offer to move and there is no choice, then they don’t have to pay the tax.’

    Is the most sensible thing the CSJ has ever said? Probably.

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  • ManWithAbacus

    With a £10bn cost base Housing Associations can more than afford it!

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  • Colin McCulloch

    ManWithAbacus -

    Well no, as much of RSL income comes from HB - so how does paying a HB penalty with HB work out?

    The bedroom tax will adversely affect the ability of RSLs to develop - rent arrears are never a good thing to have on balance sheets, nor is bad debt.

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  • Tenantplustwo

    Go deal with all this waste of taxpayer money



    http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240178504/Universal-Credit-has-the-hallmarks-of-another-IT-failure

    http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240147431/Government-outsources-IT-for-benefits-system-to-India

    http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/gove-must-go.html

    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/42705

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/right-to-buy-housing-shame-third-ex-council-1743338

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/02/13/capita_migrant_refusal_pool_ukba_contract/

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  • Tenantplustwo

    Do you know think put the same rules into the Bedroom Tax (my neighbour I been taking to the Housing Benefit Department for three years we always ensure have all the relevent papers numbers under Evident Document Numbers and I ensured she/ well I Wrote a statement demanding a answer - I send numerous emails to get no answer. Each time its them they was making the mistake. I the advocate made a case to get her Compensation. YES WE WON- GUESS WHAT JUST RECD ANOTHER LETTER ASKING FOR THE SAME INFORMATION - Guess what keep blaming the computer -

    This will apply for Housing Benefit's too
    Even if all that's OK, and the payment is calculated right, the claimant then has to satisfy the jobsearch conditions. If they don't, no payment. If their jobsearch isn't quite good enough, sanction. If their WP provider doesn't think they're trying hard enough for the ten hours a week they have to jobsearch while already working 25 hours a week, sanction.
    If UC is implemented and fails to work, there will be chaos and hardship for all the usual vulnerable groups.
    If UC is implemented and actually does work, there will be sanctions and hardship for the usual groups plus a whole new cohort of people who were not subject to sanctions before.
    The ridiculous thing is that it isn't actually saving any money - and it won't.
    It is costing billions to implement all these "reforms" and we already know that the Work Programme is a £5BN (minimum) failure; we already know that Atos costs £110,000M every year in fees for ESA assessments alone, and is costing a further £60M in appeals/tribunals; and we already know that councils are having problems with updating their systems at unknown cost.

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  • ManWithAbacus

    Dear Colin

    The £10bn figure is their cost base - not their income.

    My point is that if the Bedroom tax is designed to reduce housing benefit by c.£145m annually then housing associations would only need to cut their £10bn cost base by 1.45% to generate the same saving.

    HAs would receive £145m less from government but have £145m less costs to pay.

    Tenants need not be affected.

    Not to labor the point too much but... That's a 1.45% cost saving!

    Surely the sector can do that!

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  • Iron Fist

    It's not looking good for IDS with his own policy creation team turning and biting him in the behind. I personally give him less than 3 months in the job.

    The insanity of what's being implemented finally seems to be making a slow dawn on those who drew the measures up; perhaps realising that if it looks like brown mess and smells like brown mess, then it probably is brown mess.

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  • Chris

    It does seem a reasonable comprimise suggestion, and indeed answers the majority opposition of there not being the homes to downsize to - especially as affordability is included in the reasonability test, as this would be protecting the public as well as the tenant purse in any change of home.

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  • Gavin Rider

    My goodness - a Think Tank that has come up with a sensible thought.

    ...It's a pity IDS and the rest of the not-for-turning brigade will simply ignore it.

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