Bedroom Tax: A Letter Everyone Should Read

(140 Posts)
SameDifference Sun 10-Feb-13 02:32:49
MrsDeVere Wed 13-Feb-13 14:41:38

What the hell is wrong with council housing being freely accessible? It was never meant as the resort of the desperate.

It was supposed to provide adequate housing for the working classes. It was never meant to be for those with no other option.

It is 'social' housing. Government recognising its responsibility to provide safe, healthy homes for its citizens.

It has become available only for those with the most points. There is such a shortage you have to have significant social or medical need to get anywhere near.

This encourages the stimatisation of social housing AND the idea that once you get somewhere you better hang on with all your might.

What is wrong with providing plenty of social housing for all who need it? Rents will be paid, communities built and families can thrive.

And people could stop frothing about how you only get something if you are scrounger.

Saski Wed 13-Feb-13 14:52:15

I think we have a philosophical disagreement about the role of government, then.

Surely you must agree that the supply is outstripped by the demand, so I gather you would like to see more built. Problem is that this is funded by taxpayers who also must pay for their own housing, so they might rightfully be rankled at this prospect.

aufaniae Wed 13-Feb-13 14:53:41

"But surely you're not suggesting that council housing should be as freely accessible as socialized health care. That's madness."

Why would it be madness?

Properly managed, social housing is an investment for the tax-payer (i.e. we'd make money out of it!), it provides home and jobs, which would stimulate the economy. A large program of building social housing would benefit those in private housing too by driving down the rents, and most likely house prices too (simple supply and demand).

I am curious to know what your objection to it is?

aufaniae Wed 13-Feb-13 14:54:23

"Problem is that this is funded by taxpayers who also must pay for their own housing, so they might rightfully be rankled at this prospect."

No, properly managed, it would create profit for the tax payer.

Any other objections?

aufaniae Wed 13-Feb-13 14:54:43

(Council house tenants are tax payers too btw!)

aufaniae Wed 13-Feb-13 14:59:49

There seems to be a popular misconception about council housing that people are just given homes!

Not so. Council house tenants pay rent you know!

Where that rent comes from Housing Benefit, it represents a saving to the public purse as it's not being paid to a private LL, it is instead going back to the public purse.

Where that money is paid out of wages, it represents an income for the tax-payer (one of the reasons people in jobs shouldn't be asked to leave council housing!)

The problem we have at the moment with a scarcity of council housing has come abotu because at the same time Right-to-Buy was introduced, councils were legally prevented from reinvesting that money in new housing.

LtEveDallas Wed 13-Feb-13 15:26:02

I don't know much about council housing, never lived in it, never had to. I don't understand the rules or the bidding system etc. In my circle of friends I have some that do. Just in my circle I have:

1 x family (2 adults, two 14 year old girls). They are in a 3 bed maisonette with one double, 2 single rooms. They've been told that the girls have to share, or they pay the bedroom tax. The only way for them to share is bunk beds - and they would be up against they window. I've seen these rooms, they are tiny. There is no way that they could comfortably share. Husband is recently disabled and waiting for an assessment (epilepsy, at least one fit a week) and friend is minimum wage - there is no wriggle room in their budget.

1 x family who have had a very recent berevement - think within months. They have lost one of their children and the council has already been on to them about moving sad. Friend has taken this to her MP as the woman at the council actually said to friend "Well she was born disabled, you had to be expecting this" shock

1 x family who have been advised that their living/dining room could be turned into a bedroom with the addition of a curtain. No, it really couldn't.

My neice, rehomed into a 3 bed new build after living in a substandard 1 bed flat for years when the flats were torn down. She has 1 teen daughter. Last year she was finally accepted as a foster carer, this year she cannot keep the spare bedroom...(unless there is a way I can pay it for her - because I will)

Oh and my MIL/FIL who applied for 'sheltered housing'. MIL is very ill, she needs oxygen for 16 of every 24 hours. FIL is almost crippled with arthritis, and is about to have a spinal op that will see him in a wheelchair for at least 6 months, if not for the rest of his life. They need seperate bedrooms. They have been together for nearly 20 years now, but because they are not married they 'cannot be housed together' and when MIL said they would get married in that case were told they 'would not qualify for a 2 bed, as there are only 2 of them'. Latest plan is for them to have 2 x 1 beds as close as possible. MIL is very upset sad

Now I am surrounded by military families and families with money/mortgages etc. Very few of my friends are in social housing. If I can retell 5 horror stories, how many more are out there?

Ridiculous, divisive and ill thought out. What a surprise.

aufaniae Wed 13-Feb-13 16:06:40

LtEveDallas it's really worrying isn't it.

It's a policy which can be spun to sound reasonable in a newspaper article, and which several MNetters seem to have swallowed unfortunately ("why should people on benefits think they should have a bedroom per child when hard-working people with mortgages can't afford that" etc etc).

But you only have to scratch the surface a little to realise how non-sensical the details are, and how much needless suffering it will cause.

It's also significant IMO that they're not saying to people "we'll cut your benefit if we offer you a suitable sized place and you refuse". It's well-documented that there aren't enough smaller properties for people to move into, and so this is simply a benefit cut, and a hefty one for many people.

Also the fact that there seems to be no allowances made for medical need is outrageous IMO.

SaskiaRembrandtVampireHunter Wed 13-Feb-13 16:20:13

It's another ridiculous policy - like Workfare - which will end up costing far more than the existing system.

Yes, it is unfair that people who rent privately pay more and have less security. But the answer to that is to introduce rent controls and continental style long term tenancy agreements, not to make council tenants suffer. Also a programme of mass building of social housing, which would create much needed jobs within the building industry, and offer people the chance of a real, low cost home outside of the private rental system. It would also create more stable communities, because as it is, people who know they may have to move every six months are hardly going to put down roots and get to know their neighbours.

MrsDeVere Wed 13-Feb-13 16:23:37

I am a tax payer and have been since I was 18.

It does not rankle me that fellow human being are provided with decent housing. Why the hell would it? confused

My taxes go on a shed load of crap that I do object to but I have no choice.

Do my taxes not go towards paying the wages of MPs? Some of whom hold deeply disablist, homophobic and racist views?

Will my taxes not pay towards the massive cost of administrating this and other nasty initiatives that do nothing but play to the gallery and bring misery to thousands?

Good housing benefits everyone.

The only reason to object to others living in relative comfort is a meanness of spirit.

I am grateful that I have my own house. Why would I resent someone paying rent to the government to live in a decent home?

expatinscotland Wed 13-Feb-13 16:28:38

Here we go again! What a mean place this is. Surely it makes sense to lobby for better security and affordability in private sector renting?

SaskiaRembrandtVampireHunter Wed 13-Feb-13 16:42:40

"Good housing benefits everyone."

This can not be said often enough!

Saski Wed 13-Feb-13 17:46:52

The government faces the same market forces in building new housing as the private sector. So it's not just a case of a good investment. It's a subsidy.

Saski Wed 13-Feb-13 17:49:20

Which is not to say this is a reasonable expenditure of tax money in the face of what we subsidize, but rather to say that it's contentious - because inevitably some fraction of the subsidizers will be shut out of this very same market that they're subsidizing.

LtEveDallas Wed 13-Feb-13 17:51:36

Surely it makes sense to lobby for better security and affordability in private sector renting?

Absolutely. One of DHs gym friends is in a council house. They aren't overcrowded. They have an older male teen and 'surprise' boy/girl twins that are coming to the age when they need to stop sharing. Plan is for girl to go into single room and two boys to share. There's a big age gap that means its going to be slightly awkward for the boys, but not impossible.

There is NO WAY they would move. If nothing else, the security of a council house is (or was) second to none. DH mate has already said he would pay more for his home rather than leave it (and luckily he could, just). Rental prices around here are ridiculous. Its a commuter town and a military town. Landlords are raking it in, because they can. I cannot believe that it can be acceptable to charge over £800 a month for a tiny 2 bed place - just because there is a good train line.

It's bloody wrong.

SaskiaRembrandtVampireHunter Wed 13-Feb-13 18:11:15

"If nothing else, the security of a council house is (or was) second to none."

As it should be. This idea that council tenants are wrong or greedy for wanting a stable, secure, affordable home is bizarre.

We must get away from this idea of housing as a source of wealth and income, and get back to the idea that houses exist to provide homes for people - no matter who they are renting from. If we don't, we are going to find ourselves living in a very fragmented and dangerous society.

Saski Wed 13-Feb-13 18:15:43

I agree Saskia, but it's not a good idea to treat the symptom rather than the cure. Probably one really good way of stabilizing the housing market (and admittedly, this is London-centric but I think even so it's relevant) is cracking down on the non-domicile situation. Not the fix, but a good start.

Saski Wed 13-Feb-13 18:16:23

Oops strike cure, insert cause.

SaskiaRembrandtVampireHunter Wed 13-Feb-13 18:47:05

I don't know enough abut the non-dom situation to comment on that. But, I'd guess that outside London, they make up a very small percentage of the population as a whole, so any change would only have a local impact?

Where I live the problem is BTL landlords, who bought up houses when they were cheap (former mining village), and who now rent those houses out at ridiculous rents (way beyond that most locals can afford) because of the nice scenery, good village schools, and ease of access to Leeds and Sheffield. Rent controls would make a huge difference here. Hopefully they will be brought in before this turns into commuterville, and the locals are dispersed to who knows where, breaking what a very close knit community who almost epitomised Cameron's Big Society.

Saski Wed 13-Feb-13 19:01:35

Saskia: I read an article (I think in the Guardian) not too long ago about non-dom's driving up the price of real estate in london, which of course has a knock-on effect to the surrounding areas. The UK is becoming something of a tax haven. Because this attracts the super-rich, it invites an imbalance.

I point this out not by way of explanation of Leeds but rather as an example of how I think it's better to tackle the source housing bubbles.

JuliaScurr Wed 13-Feb-13 19:16:53

I do believe that decent housing, healthcare, education and food are human rights, not some sortof trivial add-on optional luxury. Imo, this is the basis of a civilised society. I cannot understand the naive faith that the market will provide all our needs. Clearly, it won't.

stephrick Wed 13-Feb-13 19:17:44

As far as I know if you are a council tenant and have a larger house than your requirements they have to offer you and alternative. I know someone in in a 3 bed, all the kids have left home, she said that most of her street are in this situation. If you are working I guess you take the increase if you don't want to move, if not then is it not fair to allow a family to move into a family house.

stephrick Wed 13-Feb-13 19:25:35

Mrs devere is correct, council housing was set up for the working class, affordable rent for working people, and those in real need. Now we have a situation where some think they should be able to live a life on benefits, I am not including the unable to work, but the ones who won't.

expatinscotland Wed 13-Feb-13 20:08:08

'As far as I know if you are a council tenant and have a larger house than your requirements they have to offer you and alternative. I know someone in in a 3 bed, all the kids have left home, she said that most of her street are in this situation. If you are working I guess you take the increase if you don't want to move, if not then is it not fair to allow a family to move into a family house.'

No, they don't, and in many cases won't because they can't; they don't have a suitable alternative to offer. Our HA, there is no council housing here the stock has all been spun off to a HA, just tells tenants to try for a swap.

If you're working and don't claim HB for your council/HA home then none of this applies to you. You can be on your own rattling around in a 4-bed and stay there as long as you wish as long as you keep paying the rent.

stephrick Wed 13-Feb-13 20:12:10

but they can't make you homeless can they?

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now