Bedroom tax will be costly disaster, says housing chief

(1000 Posts)
vivizone Sun 31-Mar-13 06:51:02

I don't understand how they can implement it. When a council tenant signs the tenancy agreement, if bedroom tax is not mentioned, is it not illegal to implement it at a later date?

I don't see how it is enforceable. Let's say a tenant refuses to pay/can't pay. They then get evicted - wouldn't the council still be obliged to house them after eviction, especially if they have children?

The whole thing is a mess. Why so many changes all at the same time?!

www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/mar/30/bedroom-tax-disaster-housing-chief

Cost-cutting policy will push up benefit bill, cause social disruption and create widespread misery, say critics

Ministers came under new fire over benefit cuts last night as the independent body representing 1,200 English housing associations described the controversial bedroom tax as bad policy and bad economics that risks pushing up the £23bn annual housing benefit bill.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said the tax would harm the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. It comes into force this week alongside a range of other tax and benefit changes.

"The bedroom tax is one of these once-in-a-generation decisions that is wrong in every respect," he said. "It's bad policy, it's bad economics, it's bad for hundreds of thousands of ordinary people whose lives will be made difficult for no benefit – and I think it's about to become profoundly bad politics."

His intervention came as opponents launched nationwide protests against the tax, which will hit 660,000 households with each losing an estimated average of £14 a week.

Crowds gathered in London's Trafalgar Square yesterday to protest against the measure, and simultaneous protests were being held in towns and cities across the UK. One protester, Sue Carter, 58, from Waltham Forest, told the Observer: "I'm a working single parent with a tiny boxroom and now I'm faced with the choice between food, heat or paying the bedroom tax. People have looked after their homes, improved them – why should they be turfed out?"

Under the scheme, which is introduced tomorrow, people in social housing with one spare bedroom will have their housing benefit cut by 14%, while those with two or more unoccupied rooms will see it slashed by 25%.

Ministers say the tax, which David Cameron calls the "spare room subsidy", will encourage people to move to smaller properties and save around £480m a year from the spiralling housing benefit bill. But critics such as the National Housing Federation (NHF) argue that as well as causing social disruption, the move risks increasing costs to taxpayers because a shortage of smaller social housing properties may force many people to downsize into the more expensive private rented sector.

The federation's warnings came as charities said the combination of benefit cuts and tax rises coming in from this week will amount to a £2.3bn hit on family finances.

Labour said analysis of official figures showed average families would be £891 worse off in the new tax year as the changes – including those to tax credits and housing benefits – begin to bite.

Research by the NHF says that while there are currently 180,000 households that are "underoccupying two-bedroom homes", there are far fewer smaller properties in the social housing sector available to move into. Last year only 85,000 one-bedroom homes became available. The federation has calculated that if all those available places were taken up by people moving as a result of the "bedroom tax", the remaining 95,000 households would be faced with the choice of staying put and taking a cut in income, or renting a home in the private sector.

If all 95,000 moved into the private sector, it says the cost of housing benefit would increase by £143m, and by millions more if others among the remaining 480,000 affected chose to rent privately.

As well as the move on spare bedrooms, council tax benefit will be replaced from this week by a new system that will be run by English local authorities but on 10% less funding. Pensioners will be protected under the changes but, as a result, it is feared there will be a bigger burden on poor working-age adults. Restrictions on the uprating of a number of welfare payments will also hit millions of households, homelessness charity Crisis has warned.

Chief executive Leslie Morphy said: "Our poorest households face a bleak April as they struggle to budget for all these cuts coming at once. People are already cutting back on the essentials of food and heating but there is only so much they can do.

"The result will be misery – cold rooms, longer queues at food banks, broken families, missed rent payments and yet more people facing homelessness – devastating for those directly affected, but bad for us all."

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "Our welfare reforms will improve the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities, with universal credit simplifying the complex myriad of benefits and making three million people better off. And by next year, we will have taken two million of the lowest earners out of paying tax altogether."

Crisis argues that homelessness is set to rise dramatically. This winter has already seen a rise of 31% in the numbers of rough sleepers across the country and a 20% rise in people seeking help with homelessness from their local authority in the past two years, according to Crisis.

ChartiesCharities are also concerned that the government-funded network of homelessness advisers in England is to be scrapped. The team of regional advisers and rough sleeper and youth specialists which have provided councils with expert guidance on meeting statutory homelessness duties since 2007 will be disbanded just as the bedroom tax comes in. Also being scrapped are the crisis loans and community care grants which provided a lifeline for people in financial crisis who needed essentials when moving to a new home.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said: "This is the week when the whole country will see whose side David Cameron and George Osborne are really on and who is paying the price for their economic failure."

milkand2sugars Sun 31-Mar-13 09:45:03

You can't expect people to leave their family home because of how much they earn. They must of needed social housing once to get their home in the first place.

Although it would be ideal if people on higher incomes moved out of social housing it may stop some people from wanting to find work In fear that the more they earn the higher the rent will be or in fear they will lose their home because they work.

The bedroom tax is not a tax it is a benefit cut!
I don't believe in kicking people whilst they are down and benefits should be available to those who need them but i also think some people think expect too much.

Binkybix Sun 31-Mar-13 09:51:36

I'm not for this at all for many reasons - seems poorly thought through in many ways and like its going to cause huge problems to many, especially as being brought in alongside a lot of other changes.

However, in terms of total cost I was wondering if some people have to move to private rents, then would others who are currently being paid for by other means (eg hostel as one poster mentioned earlier) be able to access HA places, therefore reducing another part of 'the bill' , so impact on total bill less than this report suggests? Doesn't seem as though that has been included in calculation.

Anifrangapani Sun 31-Mar-13 10:00:02

Isabeller they are the ones outlined in the housing corporation housing quality indicators. They can be found on the homes and communites website under housing quality standards.
All houses are given a room and number of people catagory eg 2 bed 4 person dependent on size.

hwjm1945 Sun 31-Mar-13 10:08:22

All very emotive,I grew up in a council house with poor working single mum.it was our home not a transient lodging. But, can we as a country afford to pay or underwrite people to have spare rooms? I appreciate disabled families are as special case due to specific needs but for others maybe lodgers or kids sharing will have to be the future.I know a neighbour in their own mortgages home has taken lodgers due to redundancy.we live in straightened times

Dawndonna Sun 31-Mar-13 10:28:36

Milk have you read the bits about disabled people losing their homes?
Have you read the bit about those with disabled children losing their homes?

Flatpack how many times do you need to be redirected to the Daily Mail site?

Altinkum Sun 31-Mar-13 10:38:19

My mum is on benefits, (notnsure what benefit, but she is unable to work) now her benefits are the basic she can live on, according to the government, so out of her 100 a week she has to pay £17 out of thr for having a 2 extra room that the housing gave her as there is NONE one bedroom housing in the whole if her area. Her living room is be counted as a bedroom.

Its absurd.

hwjm1945 Sun 31-Mar-13 10:43:43

Can't she rent extra room to lodger for some cash?

AThingInYourLife Sun 31-Mar-13 10:53:25

"I challenge you to fine a 1 bedroomed wheelchair accessible property in the UK."

Why not just get your lodger to pay his way by carrying you up the stairs?

twofingerstoGideon Sun 31-Mar-13 11:15:53

hwjm1945

Aah... lodgers. The new 'answer to everything.' I can assure you they're not.

Viviennemary Sun 31-Mar-13 11:20:29

Firstly it isn't a tax. It's the reduction of a benefit or subsidy if people have a spare room. It's nothing to do with council tenancies. If people have a spare room and are paying the rent themselves then there will be no change. There is only change if people are claiming housing benefit. I am not sure whether I think this is a good thing or not.

I think the whole issue of council tenancies needs to be looked at. People in council houses who can well afford to buy their own house need to buy there own house and free up houses for people who need them.

Laquitar Sun 31-Mar-13 11:32:00

I think the option of taking in lodgers is okish in cities but in some areas it wont be so easy to find one. And has to be one that is willing to share house with children. And one that you feel comfortable with. Etc.etc. (i'm not even going to menion that we live in a society where you are scared to take a photograph of your children in a playground if other children are nearby because of the paranoia but its cool to take in lodgers...Hmmm. Double standards).

The Tories hit the poor and disabled people from right and left. Its not just money, imo it is the psychological factor, the 'its your fault' , 'you are a shame' etc feeling. The messages they pass and the sickening propaganda. I fear that we will have an increase in mental illness and alcoholism. Which will cost more money anyway. Unless they commit suicide. Just like the Victorian times.

And just like Yellow it doesn't affect me either but i cannot fucking watch it.

TraineeBabyCatcher Sun 31-Mar-13 11:33:55

I was under the impression that this 'bedroom tax' was to free up under occupied houses. As far as I can see all it does it reduce the benefits claiments supposidely liveable income.

Surely if we want to free up these under occupied houses then its more than the benefit claimers that need hitting.

I don't agree with the way its being done, I agree with the principle idea though.

AThingInYourLife Sun 31-Mar-13 11:37:21

The thing that so frequently gets lost in this discussion is that people who have a spare bedroom in their home are bastards.

We can't do anything about the wealthy people with spares rooms, or spare houses, but we sure as fuck can do something about poor people getting away with this outrageous crime against space.

HappyMummyOfOne Sun 31-Mar-13 11:39:47

Its not a tax, simpply a reduction in benefit.

We have become a nation of moaners, lifes not fair as i now dont get x, y and z paid for be it extra bedrooms or childcare for people that dont work etc.

Welfare should pay for the bare minimum, otherwise there is no incentive to work. Indeed, many choose not to already hence why we need a party strong enough to break the cycle.

Those who pay their own rents and mortgages have to restrict the area and size of their house and ensure they only have the number of children they can provide for. Whilst thier taxes pay for others to have as many children as they like, live where they like or extra rooms laying empty.

Its not everyones ideal to have a lodger or live in certain areas but whilst the state is paying for their living costs then choices will be restricted.

milkand2sugars Sun 31-Mar-13 11:40:14

dawndonna I do believe I said benefits should be available to those who need them. There are a lot of people who need housing benefit to financially survive and they should receive it and I understand that some people need extra rooms for health reasons and they should have them.

There are also a lot of people who have much bigger houses then they need and expect it payed for them which isn't right in my opinion.

People that want to be downsized should be helped finding places and more homes for these should be built.
The whole housing system and benefit system is very wrong in this country and it probably always will be now.

Dawndonna Sun 31-Mar-13 11:42:00

Apologies milk.
I agree the system is a mess. I also agree with those who say that if you can afford to buy, you should. However, job guarantees are not good in this market.

milkand2sugars Sun 31-Mar-13 11:48:49

I would love to buy my own home but I can not afford it and I know to well a job cannot be guaranteed in this market. Everyone assumes if you are a couple and you work then you have money but In this day and age everyone is struggling.

AThingInYourLife Sun 31-Mar-13 11:49:59

"hence why we need a party strong enough to break the cycle."

grin

You mean a party without a majority in a coalition government?

There are a lot of adjectives that come to mind when I think of the current Tories, but "strong" is not among them.

HoHoHoNoYouDont Sun 31-Mar-13 11:51:14

How can the ordinary man and woman make their voices heard in parliament? is there any point in voting? they just do what they want to do it seems. To be so voiceless is the most depressing thing ever. It's like you just don't matter. At all.

But the people did vote and their voices ARE being listened to. People voted Tory because they were sick and tired of the benefits issue and wanted it addressing which the Tories are now doing. Perhaps now more people will get out there and vote instead of just complaining when changes happen. I say this because I know many many people who support labour but just 'couldn't be bothered voting cos it won't change anything anyway'.

And now, if these changes actually work and bring down the countries debts and spending I can guarantee you Labour won't change a thing if they get in. Their new moto will be 'if it ain't broken don't try and fix it'.

Tailtwister Sun 31-Mar-13 11:52:20

I don't see how it's going to work on a practical level. Where are all these smaller homes people can move into? As far as I can see, all it's going to do is to make vulnerable and poor people even worse off. Yet another poorly thought out idea.

rhondajean Sun 31-Mar-13 11:53:12

I'm going to talk about Scotland so sorry if England is different.

But the main reason for giving people secure tenancys was so that they had a home of their own which could not be taken away from them (as long as they met conditions eg paying rent if required).

On an ideological basis I don't see why people should be punished and made to leave their home or feel unsafe there just because they can't afford to buy. Especially at a time when we are sitting at the end of a long period of government policy focusing on getting social landlords to build larger family homes and not one bedroomed as they were viewed as undesirable and. Not suitable for demand BY THE GOVERNMENT.

Implementation of this policy is likely to cost more than any savings made.

A scenario which hasn't been raised on this thread yet is where seperate parents have shared custody or a parent has their children staing at weekends. Only the parent who claims child benefit is entitled to a room for the children. So parent in one bed flat has to put their three children where?

Tory policy is supposed to be about supporting families but this policy alone is likely to make it much harder for nonresident parents to have meaningful contact with their children in some cases.

And what about where people are in the low pay/no pay work cycle and go from paying rent to claiming HB on a regular basis (eg seasonal workers ).

rhondajean Sun 31-Mar-13 11:54:12

Hoho I think you will find benefits were not the reason people didn't vote labour. And please note the toys do not have a majority in parliament. No one voted these policies in.

propertyNIGHTmareBEFOREXMAS Sun 31-Mar-13 11:55:21

When I first heard if this policy I though 'fair enough'. Having considered it more I now think it is twatty and very cruel. Hitting those who can least afford it and classing people in hard and despairing situations as sub human not worthy of recieving kindness or understanding. I want this government out so very fucking much.

HoHoHoNoYouDont Sun 31-Mar-13 11:57:45

hoho I think you will find benefits were not the reason people didn't vote labour

So you can speak personally for everyone who voted and why they voted the way they did. hmm

rhondajean Sun 31-Mar-13 11:58:37

As much as you can, yes.

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