Federation also calls for landlords to say what defines under-occupation
NHF warns against bedroom tax rises
The National Housing Federation will ask the government to publicly rule out future increases to the controversial bedroom tax.
Regulations are due to come before parliament later this month which will enable the tax to be brought into effect.
The policy, which comes into force from next April, will see social housing tenants of working age docked 14 per cent of their benefit if they have one spare room and 25 per cent if they have two spare rooms (see box: In numbers).
The tax aims to encourage tenants deemed to be under-occupying to downsize and to cut £500 million from the welfare budget.
In a response to the regulations, seen exclusively by Inside Housing ahead of publication, the NHF calls for the government to rule out increases in future years.
It said: ‘The federation would like clarification that these rates will not be increased if the size criteria measure fails to generate the savings expected.’
The Welfare Reform Act allows the government to alter the levels of bedroom tax through regulations.
The NHF is also calling for landlords to be given the flexibility to determine whether a household is under-occupying based on family circumstances.
It is concerned about cases in which households are technically under-occupying but they do not have a spare room, such as two teenagers of the same sex expected to share a small single room.
Landlords have the flexibility to reclassify properties but will be hit by a drop in rental income.
Andy Tate, policy officer at the NHF, said: ‘Landlords have the flexibility to decide what is a bedroom, but they should also be able to decide what is suitable for people to share.’
Regarding the bedroom tax rate, a Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: ‘We don’t anticipate a need to change this rate but as with all of our policies we will keep it under review.’
Meanwhile the DWP last week confirmed it is seeking to appeal a court ruling that could force changes to the bedroom tax.
A Court of Appeal ruling last month found that housing benefit rules discriminate against disabled people.
expected annual savings from the welfare budget
14 per cent
of housing benefit docked if tenants have one spare room
25 per cent
of housing benefit docked if tenants have two spare rooms
estimated number of tenants affected