Wednesday, 04 March 2015

People 'should work more' to pay bedroom tax

People affected by the bedroom tax should work extra hours to pay for their spare room if they want to keep it, a Liberal Democrat minister has said.

Steve Webb, the pensions minister, told the BBC’s Radio 4 programme that more than 100,000 people affected by the policy are in work.

He said: ‘So they could, for example, work a bit more and simply pay the shortfall.

‘We’re talking on average £14 or £15 a week. So three hours at the minimum wage would pay the shortfall then he can keep the spare bedroom and have someone to stay.

‘The issue of an extra shift, a bit of overtime, to pay that shortfall, if it really matters to have that spare room - and I entirely understand that it will, for a family in that situation - making up the shortfall through working extra hours will be one of the options. But there may be others.’

Under the bedroom tax, social housing tenants of working age deemed to be underoccupying will be docked housing benefit from 1 April. Tenants with one spare room will lose £14 a week on average while those with two or more spare rooms will have £25 a week deducted.

Readers' comments (29)

  • Christopher Dale

    You'll be looking for extra hours Mr Webb, when at the next election the people who voted Lib-Dem, unaware you'd be propping up a disgusting bunch of Tories, consigns your party to political oblivion and forces you to find a proper job.

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  • Chris

    Such ignorance from the Minister, blissfully unaware of the long hours, the maximum within the contracted hours, and the lack of opportunity for additional paid hours workers in the UK have.

    Yes, employers will and do accept free hours being worked - indeed employers have a culture where if you do not gift the hours you will not be long from your P45.

    The man's a disgrace.

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  • Georgina Goldsmith

    so many Cabinet Members, and Tory and other MP's reaping a healthy salary plus Housing Allowance very lucrative legally obtained expenses perks - and most likely still a many decidedly questionable extra expenses claims - all this on top of things such as Consultancy fee's, Directorships of Businesses, After Dinner speech and the like payments, and often wealth inherited from their privileged lineage !!

    LONDON (Reuters) - New Bank of England Governor Mark Carney will be paid a housing allowance of more than $1,000 a day when he starts the job next year, on top of a salary that is already among the highest for a major central banker.
    The BoE said on Wednesday that Carney, currently governor of the Bank of Canada, will receive a 250,000 pound ($406,000) a year housing allowance in addition to his 624,000 pound salary.
    Britain's finance minister George Osborne went to great lengths to attract Carney to Britain, changing the application process and allowing Carney to serve a five-year term rather than the eight years that had originally been foreseen.
    While Carney's salary was announced at the time of his appointment, the scale of his housing allowance had not previously been made public.
    "The (BoE's) non-executive directors ... confirmed their agreement to and support for an annual accommodation allowance of 250,000 pounds for the next governor and his family which had been offered to him prior to his appointment," the British central bank said in a statement.

    What do these people understand or care of the struggles and strife's of the working class folk - whether they be working on low wages, disabled, or unemployed through no fault of their own (as many are despite all the propaganda tob the contrary!) Their all right Jack - so hard cheese to the rest of us!!

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  • The bedroom tax , which cuts housing benefit entitlements, and
    the council tax benefit cuts are much harsher in London due to
    the higher council rents, so that a tenant may be faced with a
    shortfall of around £50 per week !
    They will have to meet this drastic cut out of their other
    benefits , which have also been cut, or by working very much
    longer hours , as benefits are also reduced when earnings are
    increased.........or did this minister not bother to remember that !

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  • .....meanwhile Members of parliament get
    housing allowances and they often have extra spare bedrooms,
    so why are they not being penalised !

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  • Shame on you Steve Webb, my local authority would require to grow our economy by 25,000 jobs to meet the regional average.
    It is time that ministers fully concentrated upon growing the economy and creating jobs instead of taxing those with low paid jobs by the 'bedroom tax' and giving tax rebates to their supporters who are already millionaires!

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  • Many will find it impossible to work the extra hours to top up the shortfall, because they are on Zero hour contracts, and the hours are not available nor ever will be, this man is an absolute disgrace, he should do a sentence of 2 years on basic JSA, or 16 hours a week only on minimum wage and see what he thinks then.

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  • What he fails to understand that if a tenant earns more HB and other benefits will be reduced so the reality is that to afford the extra money it would need a pay rise sufficient to be above claiming any benefit

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  • Exactly Sara, so they will need to earn double or treble the difference as they will be taxed on the extra income also

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  • Joe Halewood

    My take on this absurd statement AND many others uttered by Steve Webb, who rumour has it is being tapped up to be the next presenter of Jackanory I drafted yesterday

    "Radio 4 this morning and the sophistry of junior minister Steve Webb over the bedroom tax was staggering. If you think sophistry is a euphemism for knowingly fibbing you would be correct in this case. Then again BBC’s reporter Mark Easton also made many simple errors which he presented as fact.

    The difference is that Steve Webb knew what he was saying whereas Mark Easton just didn’t master his brief on the bedroom tax.

    The Radio 4 Today programme on the bedroom tax is here (on BBCiplayer) and it began at 8.34am and ran till 8.44am so fast forward to 2hr and 34 minutes into the above link.

    At 8.34am Mark Easton says the bedroom tax only affects working-age people. It doesn’t and it affects pensioner households as you can see here and here.

    At 8.35am Mark Easton states “The government say almost a third of all social housing is under-occupied.” When I went to school 660,000 bedroom tax affected households out of 3,700,000 social housing households was 17.83% not 33% Mr Easton. Or did Mr Gove do the arithmetic for you which almost doubles the rationale of the government errantly?

    At 8.39am Mark Easton discussing that some social tenants may have to move to the private sector says private rent levels are maybe 20% or 30% higher! Average 3 bed social rent is £86pw, average 3 bed private rent is £182pw and more than double or more than 100% higher in private rented than in social housing. The same applies to any bed size and Mark Easton should have mentioned that we, the taxpayer pay out £2.2bn more in Housing Benefit for the same number of private properties than we would if they were social housing ones. Perhaps inadvertently nicking Michael Gove’s calculator was not a good idea after all!

    So thus far an inept performance from the BBC itself.

    Enter Steve Webb, the junior minister at the DWP, the responsible department for the bedroom tax, for a master class in sophistry, deception, over and knowing misleading, dissembling, being economic with the actualite and all those other euphemisms for barefaced fibs.

    8.40am – “With over a million (spare) bedrooms being paid for in Housing Benefit and over a quarter of a million overcrowded households…”

    Steve Webb was clearly saying under-occupation is much worse than over-occupation or overcrowding as we more commonly refer to it. Yet note my emphasis as this sleight of mouth from the ambitious Steve Webb, a liberal too, Et tu Brute! A bedroom is not a household they are two different things and a household needs bedrooms, that is plural and so this is not a comparison of 1,000,000 under occupied bedrooms and 250,000 bedrooms more needed is it?

    8.41am – The average bedroom tax is £14 so the 100,000 in work can simply go out and work three extra hours to pay for it was Steve Webb’s argument. Firstly look at the excellent work Hilary Burkitt has done to totally blow this argument out of the water. I have nothing further to add to that except to say Steve Webb is knowingly misleading here.

    However what I will also say against that woeful argument is that even if 100,000 could do this then that means the other 560,000 could not as they are not working. So 85% can’t take up that option can they Mr Webb? And there’s got to be some joke there about this incredibly slippery MP having webbed feet hasn’t there.

    Hang on webbed feet and forked tongue…anyone up for reading the Gruffalo MP? A poisonous wart on the top of his shoulders…sorry reader getting confused with IDS’s head there aren’t I?

    8.42am – Asked whether the bedroom tax would cost more if social tenants had to downsize to the private sector Steve Webb retorted with the usual response that entails a huge assumption – well someone from the more costly private rented sector will move in!

    This is what is known as the ‘absolute-bo***cks-this-bovine-anal-secretion-has-been-disproved-before gambit! Remember when Shapps as Housing Minister said the “affordable rent” model would cost no more in HB as those in the private sector would move in; and then the NATIONAL AUDIT Office said it will cost billions? Yes that one.

    Now Shapps is the Conservative Party Chairman which just goes to prove the old saying that the Tory Party is like a septic tank, the big chunks rise to the top!

    Sorry reader the above was for housing professionals. Here’s the lay reason why this seemingly plausible ‘gambit’ from Steve Webb is bunk. The government firstly doesn’t and never has expected many to move and downsize. Yet even if they did we have the 258,000 households (not bedrooms see above) which are the 2009 figures for overcrowded households. These are existing social tenants who would move into any newly freed-up social properties first for a number of reasons. Firstly, some are statutorily overcrowded which means councils have a legal statutory duty to rehouse them. Secondly, and with all of the 258,000 households they are existing tenants that the social landlord knows and knows are overcrowded. These will be given first choice obviously.

    When you think this through the ‘bedroom tax will free up properties’ is a myth.

    It may well lead to one under-occupied household switching properties with an overcrowded one but that is all. It is in effect a home swap. That in Housing benefit terms mean no savings and also no increase in cost to the HB bill. Yet if say 10,000 or even 100,000 do downsize to the higher cost private rented sector, there will still be 258,000 households ready to fill those voids, so at best the bedroom tax will see higher HB cost and a reduction in overcrowding. The myth of the higher cost current private sector tenant coming into lower cost social housing is just that…a myth!

    8.43am – Steve Webb in the usual passing the buck exercise., you know the same old same old bull being trotted out that we’ve heard many times before! Asked about a disabled lady who’s case had been explained as she has a through roof lift in her adapted home which takes up one of the bedrooms yet is going to be hit by the bedroom tax, Steve Webb passed the buck to LOCAL councils.

    We can’t and didn’t want to prescribe exceptions in this policy. Local councils know local needs best (ding ding ding off goes the most overused cliché klaxons around the country) and we have given local councils £30m extra to deal with this at THEIR discretion. So Mrs quadriplegic disabled tenant or any other deserving case you can throw at me says Steve Webb, I will pass back and tell them if you don’t get help it’s your local councils fault so don’t blame me or the government!

    8.44 am – end and Steve Webb disappears into the ether though given his proclivity for sophistry no doubt he will be back on the national news again sometime today.

    A tenant took a stroll through the benefit wood. IDS came long and the tenant looked good. Where are you going to scrounger thats lax? No money for tea with my bedroom tax? No said the tenant but I do like your broom. I’d invite you in but I haven’t the room!

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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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