Thursday, 29 January 2015

Labour attacks ‘perverse’ bedroom tax

The coalition government’s bedroom tax is ‘perverse’ the shadow employment minister has said.

Labour’s Stephen Timms, speaking on Radio 4 yesterday, criticised the controversial policy, under which benefit claimants in social housing of working age with spare rooms will have their benefit cut from 1 April.

Mr Timms said: ‘We have argued for the last two years that it would be fine to apply the penalty where people have refused to take smaller accommodation, but to penalise people when there’s nowhere smaller to move to is perverse.’

Mr Timms used the example of Hull, which he says has 4,700 people affected but only 73 smaller properties for people to downsize into, to illustrate that in some parts of the country people won’t be able to move to smaller homes.

Conservative party chairman and former housing minister Grant Shapps said: ‘Labour have very cleverly deemed this to be a tax; of course it’s exactly the opposite to a tax.

‘It is a spare rooms subsidy, that’s being paid through the benefits system, on a million empty bedrooms in this country, which makes no sense.’

Mr Shapps added: ‘What we can’t continue to do, and we can’t afford to do, is pay for a million empty rooms while we’ve got a waiting list that doubled under the previous administration and with so many people in desperate need of a house at all.’

Readers' comments (27)

  • The 3 three-bedroomed housing assoc properties(total stock) in this small hamlet contain 6 spare rooms-all addresses occupied by pensioners! I live in a 2bed 'rabbit hutch' which was advertised as "suitable for single people" when I applied for it. I am 58yrs so can't retire untill 66yrs, but have to pay bedr tax as on benefits due ill-health. My disposable income much less than pensioner neighbours who are sitting tight in their spacious homes!!

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  • Linda

    This divide and rule approach is very damaging. The problem is not people under occupying property but that as a country we do not have enough housing for everyone to live comfortably. The bedroom tax penalises those with somewhere adequate to live rather than ensuring that more homes are built. It is a distraction from Government failure over decades to ensure the population has the homes we require.

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  • Chris

    Less choice, more tax - could summarise Tory thinking towards those who are not 'one of them'.

    Then, there are the likes of Shapps who benefit from more choice and less tax because their income is in the right payscale.

    Why they try and dress it up as something reasonable or fair is ridiculous - just be honest Tories and admit that when it comes to the public purse, you are all in it together.

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  • Georgina Goldsmith

    Incidentally, the "value" of houses is irrelevant. They're places for people to live: perhaps we need to start remembering that, instead of obsessing about them primarily as investments.

    In my view house prices have been ridiculous for decades. It all goes back to the Wilson government's fiddling with the rent acts in the 1960s, which caused private rented accommodation to disappear almost overnight. People were left with the alternatives of either buying a house or queueing for a council house. House prices began to rise immediately, and have never stopped.
    However, that is all that is a side issue. The issue is not about planning permission or house prices. Those are issues, but only peripheral ones. It is about people not having money to spend and buy things in general because the government is taking too much in tax and wasting it. New jobs will not appear in any quantity because businesses cannot make money by selling their wares because people are not buying. As things are there will be no 'kickstarting' the economy.

    The way to put money in peoples' pockets is to cut taxes, and the money for that can be achieved by putting millions of public 'servants' that we can no longer afford to pay for onto the dole.

    Only then will people begin to create prosperity - 'kickstarting the economy'.

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  • What an imbecile Timms is. He says it would be fine to penalise people if they refuse to move to a smaller property. So he supports the 'principle' of the bedroom tax, but only disagrees with the way it is being implemented?

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  • Chris

    Martin he is not an imbecile, he is a Labour Parliamentary Representative - it is possible that the terms are exclusive of each other.

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  • if the HB bill has escalated to £23b is this not a result of exorbitant LHA rates being paid in the private sector per week/month in the south of England? were it appears that money has just been given away to private landlords for ridiculously priced housing, there is a massive mis appropriation of funding! who owns the property why is there no fair rent scheme, the north of England which charges a fraction in the private sector, But due to lack of social housing, I wonder why" its been sold off and now being advertised in the private sector as more expensive rental accommodation". This is the same all over the country just look on rightmove, Penalising people who have been fairly allocated homes by their local authority and expecting them to make a huge contribution to their rent when they have hit a crisis and have to claim Hb is very unfare, it will cause further housing problems , eviction and homelessness, which the already stretched and underfunded homeless teams will be unable to cope with. It will cause a public health issue with people already sick and disabled, impoverished cold and hungry, putting more pressure on services such as mental health, Gp's and hospitals. This is a public outcry. Better the government deal with the wasting of monies in the private sector LHA in London for example this is a black hole in housing , making people homeless is not a solution but another human rights violation. Have the local authorities across the UK notified each tenant in writing well in advance of this barbarism, have they strategically planned for the influx of new cases, NO, have they got any structure in place for transfers and relocation for tenants ordered to leave the HOMES NO! PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE!!!

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  • Better the coalition admits it has made a dreadful error and make amends before its too late!

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  • This is a classic example of the tail wagging the dog whereby housing allocations policy is being driven by tax and welfare budget factors rather than by housing policy and social need factors. The so-called lead Department on housing policy (CLG) have been led unthinkingly into benefit capping measures with no one in central government thinking through the housing policy implications. So families in Croydon get moved out of family housing into more expensive and less suitable hotel accommodation; the taxpayers and families all end up worse off!verybody

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  • Expect a glut in secondhand goods as people downsizing try to sell possessions to fit in that bedsit or one bed flat, if one is available when they leave their houses.

    Watch overcrowding increase as a result of sofa surfing amongst under 35's

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  • Downsizing with the bedroom tax

    17 July 2014

    The price for underoccupying a home is high for many vulnerable people. Jess McCabe visits Stoke-on-Trent to find out how landlords are attempting to help

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