Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Public and politicians step up bedroom tax fight

Pressure is mounting on the government to rethink its ‘bedroom tax’ with Conservative politicians, the public and housing sector chiefs all voicing their opposition to the penalty.

Thousands of protesters gathered at demonstrations across the UK on Saturday to call on the government to axe the plans, which are due to come into force on 1 April.

At one of the largest demonstrations in Manchester the organiser, former housing officer Karen Broady, warned housing associations could go bust as a result of the reforms.

‘Many people are going to have to choose between paying the rent or eating,’ she said. ‘It will be eating every time.’

‘Now that the “bedroom tax” is almost here, social housing providers must not give up the fight to urge the government to reconsider its decision.’

Ian Munro, chief executive, New Charter

Last week Freedom of Information Act requests by Inside Housing revealed several Conservative MPs have raised concerns about the under-occupation penalty, including Andrew Selous, who works closely with work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith as his parliamentary private secretary.

Mr Selous, who is MP for south west Bedfordshire, wrote to Central Bedfordshire Council on 18 January, calling for extra support for disabled people who live in homes that have been adapted for them.

Under the under-occupation penalty, social housing tenants of working age who are on housing benefit will have their payments cut if they are deemed to have one or more spare bedrooms. Around 420,000 of the 660,000 households that will be affected include a family member with a disability.

The government is making £25 million available to help vulnerable people affected by the penalty, and has introduced exemptions for some groups including foster carers, and disabled people who require a room for an overnight carer.

In his letter Mr Selous said the ‘short-term’ payments are not appropriate for people with adapted homes, and suggested they should be in a ‘separate category’.

Rival politicians have also widely criticised the plans. Scottish finance secretary John Swinney is one of the latest to make his concerns known, writing to chancellor George Osborne ahead of this week’s Budget warning the penalty will be ‘disastrous’ and calling for it to be axed.

Housing leaders have also taken their concerns about the plans to the government. New Charter chief executive Ian Munro last week sent an open letter to prime minister David Cameron saying the penalty is ‘unfair and incompetent’ as it will not achieve its stated aim of making better use of social housing stock.

Mr Munro said: ‘We’ve fought long and hard against the government’s plans from the beginning but now that the “bedroom tax” is almost here, social housing providers must not give up the fight to urge the government to reconsider its decision and see the real and devastating impact the changes will have on tenants, livelihoods and communities.’

Readers' comments (41)

Comments are only open to subscribers of Inside Housing

Already a subscriber?

If you're already a subscriber to Inside Housing, please sign in to your account to view comments and add your own.

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



  • EXCLUSIVE: Landlords step up for build to rent cash

    17 December 2014

    Three housing associations are set to build hundreds of private rented homes under a flagship government funding programme after profit-making firms withdrew bids.

  • Bedroom tax vote in balance

    5 September 2014

    Lib Dem proposals face limited support from MPs absent from Westminster

  • Bedroom tax impact on grant allocations


    Housing providers have warned that the government is ‘storing up future problems’ because more than three-quarters of its grant funding programme will be used for the development of one and two-bedroom homes.

  • Rent arrears caused by bedroom tax up to £5.4m

    11 April 2014

    Rent arrears believed to be caused by the bedroom tax in Scotland rose by £570,000 to £5.43 million between September and December, a report has revealed.

  • MPs call for bedroom tax exemptions

    2 April 2014

    MPs have called for disabled people living in homes which have been significantly adapted to be exempt from the bedroom tax.


  • 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

IH Subscription