Saturday, 31 January 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)

  • Unfortunately, IDS is not for changing, well not until it becomes apparent that the plans are unworkable, there aren't sufficient properties of a type to reallocate those affected across the whole housing spectrum.

    When the horror stories hit the press, wait a minute, aren't they gagging the press later today?

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  • Chris

    With so much personal income at stake for these landlord/politicians, no way will they do anything that reduces their opportunity to make even more profit from taxpayer funds - isn't this exactly the state of play under our first PM, Walpole? (and just who did kill Cock Robin?)

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  • Just the word 'bedroom tax' is demeaning and an invasion of privacy, the tory government will have got under the 'tent pegs' of social housing
    I do not believe this was about 'fair' housing or 'saving money' but enforced cultural change in an area that they will be accountable for at the end of their days. In my Fathers House there are many rooms'

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  • Thatcher was destroyed by the Poll Tax!

    Cameron will be destroyed by the Bedroom Tax!

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  • @ian Holmes. I sincerely hope so. There are so few bed flats so where is everyone supposed to go?

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  • Brian C Kent

    I echo the thoughts of Ian Haines and JeanH. However, the victims of the strategy of cutting off supply then blocking escape routes is upon us.

    Who will put it right the mess when inherited? Methinks, the purples will bluster but do nothing.

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  • Maria Judge

    We are now living in a TOTALITARIAN DICTATORSHIP!

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  • Maria Judge over 2,000.00 hits

    Go and write to your MP's and Councillor's NOW please

    All News and other other site not mentioned a word

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  • Maria Judge

    The Bedroom tax is most certainly a tax as it reduces the vital and legal incomes received by the poor and directly increases the financial position of the government. But what about all other groups who receive public funds and have empty spaces in their premises who have NOT been targeted by any such leglislation , such as members of Parliament who get public allowances for their accommodation ,and often have lots of empty bedrooms, or British farmers who get public subsidy for their land space but of which a lot is left empty / unproductive. Why is it only the poor who are being punished for having empty spaces

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  • Maria Judge

    Please can people circulate these's link's to everyone you know, every social media website, every campaign group - just get it out there please?

    Meanwhile they are already being subsidized to the tune of £2.3 Million a year for their posh meals and cheap booze – costing taxpayers around £60,000 a week.
    But as most hard-working Britons tighten their belts in the recession, pampered peers are being protected from losing their dining perks.

    The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority said the sum MPs can claim was increasing for “associated expenditure” on their second homes “to reflect inflation”.

    See all the window block out all over U.K.

    It's not a rent rise, it's a payment demanded for having a "spare" room. Just like the 'window tax' in the 18th and 19th centuries, which was another way of classifying an " excessive" amount of rooms. The difference is the window tax was aimed at those who, it was assumed, were the wealthier in society. It was a wealth tax, or income tax, without calling it such a thing. The difference is the 'bedroom tax' is aimed at a group that includes some of the poorest in society, but it is still a tax, without calling it such a thing

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