Bedroom Tax: A Letter Everyone Should Read(140 Posts)
Bump this needs reading......
This letter is so emotive that it loses credibility.
It's not a tax, it's a reduction in credits.
How do you think the government should deal with people who get council houses, and then their circumstances change - people die, grow up, move out - and their houses are now bigger than what they would qualify for?
Sure it's sad when people die, but the government doesn't insulate anyone from the financial impact of losing a husband or wife (that's actually the role of insurance - and family). I'm not really sure why this lady should be any different. I'm not being callous, it's just not reasonable to suggest that we can afford to be really nice with the public housing stock in this country.
Really, what would you do differently?
i agree with saski. on the one hand people moan about there not being enough housing around and it not being large enough, but then when the government tries to do something about it - by encouraging people to not have larger properties than they need - there's an uproar from the same group of people who complain about lack of housing.
i can see anywhere in the letter where it explains why she has to move or how many other suitable local properties she has considered - just the one thats £98.
i agree that people's situations should be handled in a sensitive way. But if you are using social housing i think you should accept that you are in a different situation to that of someone who has bought a property
she's 59. She's talking like she's 99.
it's her home! Why are you lot so content to go along with this?
What should be done? Train unemployed youth to BUILD COUNCIL HOUSES!!
Stop private landlords charging exorbitant rent subsidised by housing benefit
It's her home? If it's her home, then no one can reduce her benefit for under occupancy.
OTOH it is quite emotive. has she seen her own MP to see what could be done.
she says it is a 1.5 bedroom bungalow so isn't she allowed to stay. I can see her point. It sounds horrendous.
Of course it is emotive.
Its a fucking emotional subject.
Don't be so patronising. She is bereaved, traumatised and disabled. She is not a politician or a journalist. She refuse to take her seriously because her prose offends you?
She she has a bungalow with one and half bedrooms.
They want her to move out for the sake of a few square feet.
See what this country has come to. The propaganda has worked.
She has a debilitating condition. So they shift her out to a flat on the second/third floor. In a couple of years time she needs adapted housing so she goes on the list for a small bungalow
It makes no sense. This woman is not living in a four bedroom family home. Suitable one bedroom flats are practically non existent.
Saski you think only people with a mortagage earn the right to call where they live a home?
if you read the letter though it doesn't actually say she isn't allowed to stay. its really not very clear at all. it does in fact say she is being assessed for housing benefit.
She states that the bungalow only has one and a half bedrooms and is deemed not for the under 55's. Therefore a young family wouldn't qualify for it so what on earth is the point of moving anyone such as this around?
Everyone on HB will be affected. She says that she could be considered for the discretionary HB which would cover the extra cost but it only lasts for a few months.
She, like everyone else will be forced to pay an extra 14% for the bedroom, or move.
How is that a choice? Move to where? One of those hundreds and hundreds of one bedroom flats that are going begging at low rents?
Or into a one bedroom private rent which will cost more in HB than her council bungalow.
How does that make financial sense?
It doesn't but the mean minded do not like to see others getting what they do not have, even if they don't actually want it.
A family can't occupy her home as it's for over 55's
She will be left with £53 a week to live on.
This is needless cruelty.
she is being asssessed for housing benefit which is awarded for 13 week periods on a rolling basis. so in reality she may be perfectly ok - she doesn't know yet.
so before everyone says how unfair this is perhaps we ought to wait to see what actually happens rather than just scaremongering and trying to make out how appalling the current gov is.
"she's 59. She's talking like she's 99."
If she is has a chronic illness then she may well be just as weak and vulnerable as someone who is very eldely. She said she is in constant pain.
Even if she gets housing benefit it will not cover the cost of the extra room.
Discretionary housing benefit is a finite fund alloted on a first come first served basis. When the fund runs out, no one can have it. She is not guaranteed it.
I don't think this is scaremongering.
Nor do I.
I think people who it doesn't affect want to think it is because then they can carry on as if nothing is happening.
I've just had a heated discussion about bedroom tax with my sister - I didnt know what it was until half an hour ago- and I only have her opinion on what it is.
She is upset as she says her daughter who is on beneftits as both her and her partnet do not work and have 1ds and 1 dd will have to move or pay £12 a week extra as they have 3 bed house to a 2 bed as the children can share - uprooting their ds schooling , only to move them back into a 3 bed in afew years time when they can no longer share. Is this not a waste of time? Also when my husband lost his job there was the very real possibilty of us not being able to pay our mortgage, and have to sell up and uproot my kids education too . Maybe my neice and her partner could give up smoking and then they would be able to pay the extra.
She also says that apparently we will house the 20000 immigrants that are coming here? Seems a bit unbelievable to me.
Mrs DeVere, is who actually owns the house she lives in not relevant to the discussion?
Re: it's for 55+ only - I'm guessing the 1.5 bedroom would probably go for an older couple where one of them has some kind of in home care & therefore needs a separate bedroom from their spouse. You can see how this could be viewed as a priority.
it's her home! Why are you lot so content to go along with this?
It may be her home but it isn't her house
In this case, I can see the sense in leaving her there, but I also kind of understand why this "bedroom tax" is being brought in. I'm not saying I agree with it, but I do understand it
This is not the way that I fix the housing shortage.
The way to fix the housing shortage is to build more council/HA housing.
I Agree - my mortgaged house is my home too but if i cant afford to pay my mortagae the government wont come and pay for it for me so I can stay in my home will they?
Actually, plum, the government WILL come and pay your mortgage for you so you can stay in your home.
Support for Mortgage Interest and Mortgage Rescue Scheme.
Presumably because it's cheaper to support people to stay in their mortgaged homes than to pay rent.
Interestingly, as far as I've seen, none of these schemes are affected by bedroom tax. So atm it looks like someone under-occupying a four-bedroomed house with a mortgage will continue to be supported, but someone renting will be penalised.
Yes they will plum
I wish people would find out the facts before they start spouting 'unfair' on the internet.
The thing about this bedroom tax is that it will not solve any problems and it will create many.
But it appeals to the 'scrounging, entitled plebs' mindset that has been cultivated and encouraged by government and media propaganda.
Seemingly intelligent people have fallen for it hook line and sinker.
It does not make sense to force people out of homes when there are very few alternatives. There is a shortage of two bedroom and one bedroom properties and there will now be thousands more chasing them. There are almost no adapted properties in the smaller room category thus penalizing people with disabilities and their families more than any other group, the alternative is to rent privately which is more expensive leading to a larger HB bill.
Wish i was told about this when dh lost his job!!! it seems that They will help pay my motgage for 2 yrs? Good i always thought it made sense to give people a hand when they need it. They wont helpe forever though - and people shouldnt expect to get handouts/ benefits for ever. ( Im not saying evryone does) . There is not enough money in the pot to support the amount of people who need help its really very sad. I think the reason the country is in the way it is it insteas of the welfare state being there for those who need it , people think it has become 'their right' and because we are supporting all those people too we dont have enough for this who really need it- that includes giving our nhs resourses to health tourist etc
Mrs devere i do not understand why someone will b told to downsize for a few years until their dc are older and the will need a biger home again - is that not pointless/ waste of time? Is that really what will happen ?
Agree completely with Mrs Devere. Stories like this will be just the tip of a very very large iceberg. Shame on the government
Yes Plum it will.
Plus..if you have an 'extra' room you will be required to move or find the money to pay for it. This is the case even if you have a severely disabled family member who cannot share a room, you need the space to store equipment (wheelchairs, suction, oxygen etc), you need a carer to stay frequently but not permanently.
The tax also applies to fostercarers. That means they cannot have a room set aside for prospective placements. They will have to pay for the privilege of keeping it free. Many boroughs require foster carers to have separate rooms for each foster child, even if they are siblings. This means that some carers will have to pay even more (you pay a % for each vacant room).
Some children cannot share a room. My DS for example cannot share with his brothers because he doesn't sleep well and can be aggressive. Other children have severe behaviour difficulties or medical needs which would make sharing a room impractical.
One of my families has made a sensory room from the box room for their severely disabled child. That will not be a good enough reason to make them exempt. A little box room, transformed to give a child with complex needs an enhanced quality of life. Now they will have to try and find the money to pay to keep it.
How is that Ok? How does that help anyone?
How can people with disabilities just pack up and go? It can take years to set up services and care packages, get into the right school, get to know carers and service providers. Get the funding for respite etc.
They cant just move to wherever there is a spare two bedroom bungalow.
It is a fucking awful plan.
My friend has four children in a three bedroom house. She will be 'taxed' because the house has a dining room. I really don't understand the mentality of this legislation. If she was to move to a different three bed council house with no dining room, how would this benefit anybody? She would have exactly the same sleeping arrangements! Who would be deemed worthy of the house with the luxury of a dining room?
Any room apart from a bathroom can be classed as a sleeping area peerie.
When I lived in a two bedroom council flat my rent card said I could have 7 Adults living there. Children counted as half an adult and babies didn't count at all.
So I could have lived there with my OH and 10 kids and triplet newborns and not be overcrowded
Weirdly, my upstairs neighbour had exactly the same flat as me, identical layout, and her rent card said 9 people could live in it!
Bugger just lost my long post.
Ok mrs devere- so you are saying that there is a shortage of one and two bed homes- so then where will all the people in their'big' homes move to? No where ? So they yake them to court for not paying the extra as they cant afordit and then they say we evict u but there is no where to evict them to ? How is that sensible? X
Well it isn't' sensible.
That is rather the point.
None of it makes sense.
It is playing to the gallery. 'Look at us, Decent Hard Working Families of Britain! We are rooting out the shirkers and scroungers, just like you want us to'.
Anyone who falls for it is a fool.
It is like cutting benefits for people without jobs when we have record rates of unemployment.
Redefining disability and removing benefits from people with prosthetic legs because they are no longer classed as having mobility problems.
People really need to wake up and admit what this elitist, detached government are doing. Everytime they sink to a new low people insist 'they won't do that!' and they do.
And our expectations are lowered until we reach the point of accepting that the poor and vulnerable are somehow like that because they just.don't.try.hard.enough.
People won't move, they will pay the extra from somewhere. Harsh, but in many many cases, fair.
When I read the letter I initially felt the same as Saskia, because its not up to the taxpayer to fund someone's living in a more expensive place than they need just because they chose to leave a loved ones ashes there. But if she is disabled, she has a valid reason for needing to stay in her home.
In many cases though, I don't see what's wrong with making people pay for the luxury of having a bedroom or a dining room that they don't actually need. If people want those things, they need to pay for it.
Because they don't have a choice?
But they will have choice. Maybe not desireable choices, especially if those choices are between paying the extra and moving away from an area where your are settled, but that's still choice that other people shouldn't have to pay for when their own choices are also limited.
I live in a rented house because I can't afford to buy - at any time, my landlord could increase the rent or just decide he wants me out. I don't like it but I know I can't expect to live there forever. So why are council houses considered homes for life?
That's what I'm getting from this - that people believe they can stay in their home for as long as they want, even though they don't own it. That's just not how it works.
Heard a woman on my local radio station today, she lives alone in a 3 bedroom flat in Eton, she says she needs that space because her granddaughter stays over on most weekends
unfortunately, cases like that make a lot of people agree with the bedroom tax
Hobsons choice for many.
Find the money from limited funds or find the money to move away and try and get services in a new area?
Take a child out of school where they have a statement and know the staff and move away and start the process all over again?
Where are these properties that they will move into?
How will thousands of families being uprooted benefit society?
How is it beneficial to the take payer to pay HB on a private rental that is smaller but three time the price of a social let?
Do you think private landlords are going to want to rent to families who can only pay what HB will allow?
We should be providing more social housing, not less.
Good, affordable housing benefits everyone.
Society is so blinded by the politics of envy it cannot see it.
If this was going to free up housing stock and save money I could understand but it's a punishment for not being totally independant of the welfare state.
No unfortunatley people use cases like that to justify the bedroom tax.
Particularly if the housing is in an area that isn't where they think Council should live.
Its heart breaking. And I really dont think she should be made to move.
But I honestly wouldnt have scattered my husbands ashes in the garden of a house that did not belong to me.
-This policy will create problems for so many people,It will not create more housing. But that's, ok they are only council house tenants.can't have them having something the mighty home owner hasn't got can we?
I completely agree that we should be providing more housing, and making appropriate social housing available to many many more people.
Find the money from limited funds or find the money to move away and try and get services in a new area?
But this is the reality for many families who don't get social housing, don't get HB because they earn that little bit too much, don't get benefits and tax credits. Why should HB claimants be exempt from the realities of life?
Take a child out of school where they have a statement and know the staff and move away and start the process all over again?
I don't think we can base government policy for millions of HB claimants on the relatively small number of people who have children with statements. And families with disabilities need to be considered individually anyway, that doesn't mean the entire idea is flawed.
I think you are being naive clouds.
There are thousands and thousands of families with disabled members in this country and many of them live in social housing and/or claim HB.
Local government do not have the mechanisms in place to take each family's circumstances into consideration. They do not have the budget to fund the huge administration costs.
I work exclusively with families with disabled children. The letters have been going out for months now. None of the families have been offered exemptions.
As for claimants being exempt from the realities of life, I hardly think so. Their reality is that they are about to be forced into an untenable situation to sate the appetite of those who want those with little to have less.
For every one family living in a four bedroom in Eton with three spare rooms, there will be tens who are being forced to move for the sake of a box room in Dagenham.
If this policy produces a shiny new society of self reliance and over flowing Local Authority coffers I will eat my own head live on channel four.
I think the problem is each case needs to be dealt with individually, to weedle out the scroungers .if i choose to have a large family thats my choice and my responsibility- as a homeowner i will buy a larger house ir squidge up - whereas a relative is on her 8th child and has just moved to a larger social housing property , paid for totally by the gov and that seems to be MY responibilty too as a tax payer. NOtt all circumstances are the same thou
It's not about wanting those to have little to have less at all.
It's about those who have little not wanting to pay for others who have little to have things that they themselves can't afford.
That is what is happening, although people don't like to admit it. It would be great if everyone who claimed to 'have no choice' got given the money to pay for a spare bedroom or a dining room, but as that's never going to happen, it shouldn't be given to anyone who doesn't have a very valid reason for needing it.
But if you could remove the dining room and it would save money that would make sense.
But you can't. So forcing someone to move because they have a dining room just smacks of revenge.
Don't forget that the majority of HB claimants are actually working. Being in social housing does not = jobless either.
'When I read the letter I initially felt the same as Saskia, because its not up to the taxpayer to fund someone's living in a more expensive place than they need just because they chose to leave a loved ones ashes there. But if she is disabled, she has a valid reason for needing to stay in her home.
In many cases though, I don't see what's wrong with making people pay for the luxury of having a bedroom or a dining room that they don't actually need. If people want those things, they need to pay for it.'
Here is what is wrong: because in many cases, the only way to downsize is to go for a privately rented home. And here's the kicker about that: even with LHA caps, the rent on a smaller, privately-rented home is higher. The mover then has to claim more housing benefit than they did in the socially rented home.
And here we go again, anyone age 61+ is completely exempt from this, no matter if they are still working part-time and claiming partial HB, have never worked, don't have kids living near them, etc.
So all these people who 'have less', and don't want to pay for others to have more than they, instead of directing ire at why they have so little for working so hard, at the real source of why - low wages in relation to the cost of living and, in particular, housing; increasing inflation; the insecurity and expense of the largely unregulated private-sector rental industry, including letting agents; decreasing social mobility - direct at people in . . . council houses.
Best example of Wag the Dog I've seen in a long time.
MrsDeVere you are so right. What I can't understand is why people seem to be so envious of people on HB, it is no fun and very few people enjoy being on benefits FFS I am sure they would rather be buying their home just like me. I am so lucky
Here is what is wrong: because in many cases, the only way to downsize is to go for a privately rented home.
Lots of people affected will already be in privately rented homes. There are already many people who should be entitled to social housing but that can't get it who are having to pay more than they can afford.
The problem isn't people only being given the money they need to house themselves without being given any extras, the problem is that we don't have enough housing.
I know of a retired man who was in a four bed house on his own, private rental, two living rooms, 2 bathrooms, Quite rightly they said that he only required a one bed place so cut his benefit and he had to move.
If he could have afforded it he could have stayed there but he couldn't. I don't see why housing benefit should pay for more than you actually need.
So is it true then that if u are over 60 it doesnt apply? How is that fair?
Well said mrs devere!
My son is 8 years old and has multiple disabilities, he has previously tried to suffocate his sister, he is extremely violent at times and as such social services fitted out a bedroom for him complete with padding, shatter proof windows and alarms on the door. They say my son is to NEVER share a room as the risk to the other child is too great.
The council however now tell me my son is not entitled to his own room, I need to downsize and he can share with his sister who he tried to suffocate. They say social services have no authority, they say its tough that my son has problems. I am faced with either downsizing and putting my daughter in a very dangerous situation or paying for my sons room, money I just do not have.
This will not free up homes, it will make people with disabled children (a huge number of which live in poverty) even poorer having been forced to pay due to their child's needs.
OR ProteegeMoi they will put their disabled DC's in care
All this bedroom rule means is that each person living in a house larger than their requirements will have to pay some of their rent themselves. And it really is a small amount. It is not a tax. It is a reduction in benefit. And this lady only has to pay the subsidy until she is 60. Which is in one year's time. Unless I have misunderstood the stituation. +
If you are ona small budget it is a lot of money
"All this bedroom rule means is that each person living in a house larger than their requirements will have to pay some of their rent themselves. And it really is a small amount. It is not a tax. It is a reduction in benefit."
People like the woman who wrote this letter are so short of money they don't have the heating on. What are they supposed to pay some of their rent themselves with, their food money?!
I do think there are cases where this policy is really damaging - the cases where there are people with disabilities who need carers to stay or need extra space to accommodate the extra needs.
But I know a woman in exactly this situation who didn't work because she looked after her children (one who needed additional care) and then her (older) husband who died leaving a mortgage that she has no way of paying. She will be moving out of her already very small flat they all shared into a one bed as soon as she can sell up and realise enough equity to buy something else. She wants to stay but she can't. She's also on a very low income and is now of pensionable age and has no way of increasing her income. I struggle to see how to square the circle between the lady who wrote the letter and my friend - the only difference is that one had a council flat and one didn't but they are both having to move, leave everything they know and start a different life.
I really don't have any answers - there are clearly situations where people are in properties that are too big for them and there is a shortage out there and we ought to find away to aportion scarce resources as well as we can. But that's really hard to do without creating sad cases like this. Perhaps that's just life because it's what's happening to my friend who is unaffected by this policy but just facing new and reduced circumstances after bereavement.
I read that people with a disability will not be subject to this rule. I also don't have any answers. But people who can't afford to pay their mortgage must downsize. And are really in a much worse position, because if they cannot sell their house they get deeper and deeper in debt and in negative equity. I agree that clearly there are situations where local authorities make a sensible decision based on the needs of the people in question.
Plum going by the principles that YOU CHOOSE to go by surely someone over 61 would have paid in more than you have.
You are contradicting yourself there!!
How can you have half a bedroom?
'I read that people with a disability will not be subject to this rule. I also don't have any answers. But people who can't afford to pay their mortgage must downsize.'
You read wrong. There's a discretionary fund. There's no guarantee a person will get it and once it's gone ,it's gone!
And people who can't afford to pay their mortgage can get help. Those links have been provided on this thread.
People with disabilities WILL be subject to this rule.
Darkest eyes - iprobably am !! None of it makes sense to me - how its is fair that homeowners can struggle and yetpeople on hbcan have emdless children (some not all) - how is it sensible to make a family downsize due to kids ages only to have to upsize again in a few uears time? How is it fair that a 60 yr ol who is still able to provide an imcome for themselves doesnt have to pay but a parent of a disabled child that cant pay/ work would have to ? It all seems a bit bonkers and actually unfair on lots of different people in different situation - almost too bonkers to actually happen -
Plum this is why they are doing it. Divide and rule. To turn people against each other. I didnt realise it doesnt apply to those over 60.
I had absolutely no idea those benefits existed so thanks for those links. I'm sure my friend doesn't either so that's really good to know. On a brief glance I'm tempted to think she should move anyway to somewhere she can sustain - I think it would actually be unhelpful for her for various reasons to be clinging on for dear life when she could just downsize and not be dependent on the whim of the benefits minister but she can make that decision herself when she's got all the info.
Old post of mine from last months thread.
DarkesteyesTue 29-Jan-13 17:26:36
Dh and i were fighting to get a ramp put in the entrance of our building. He has already had two accidents on his mobility scooter while coming in the building. (toppled over backwards and had to go to hospital because of hitting the back of his head) The HA refused to put a ramp in. They said we could move to another flat instead.
The entrances to the other buildings are exactly the same so we would have the same problem.
She also suggested that because of his disabilities a 2 bedroom place might be better.
You should have seen her face when i explained about the bedroom tax.
And the fact that there would be a break in tenancy. AND the fact that as the entrances in the flats are all the same it would make no difference to the way DH has to struggle with his scooter.
We have one bedroom. DH sleeps on a bed made up in the living room. We have slept in seperate beds for several years now partly because of his disability. He has spasms in the night and used to end up kicking me.
im saying that ONE of the reasons we turned down a 2 bedroom was because of this bedroom tax.
We have seen it coming for a while. Unlike some of the people i know in RL who are acting all surprised because rather than looking at the news and paying attention to the world around them they live on a diet of reality shows and celebrity crap.
plum DH and i dont have any children
Where are the next ill, late middle-aged not able to work and need support couple going to be housed?
Its kind of hard to feel sympathy for her when she says I have considered moving but the only property available is far from shops and bus stops and costs £98 per month more than where I am at present. Welcome to the world of the private rental where a one bedroom property costs £98 per month more than a two bedroom social housing property and probably doesnt have a garden either.
I dont think she understands that if she moved to this property she would have to find that extra £98 herself. (From information in a Mirror article she lives in Newbury and her rent is £123 a week which puts her at the limit of the LHA for a one bedroom property in Newbury which is £121.15 a week or £524.98 a month. So if she moved to the more expensive one bedroom property she wouldnt have a £17 a week HB deduction but would have to make up a nearer £24.50 a week shortfall instead, so would be a further £7.50 per week worse off in a smaller property with no security of tenure.) Perhaps if she was aware of that she might have counted the blessings of her social housing property a little more.
I would have far more sympathy with Mrs Jones if her letter had been less hysterical. I realise I am lucky to have this property and I dont mind paying a bit but £17 a week is too much (which it is) would have been far more effective. As it is it shrieks of entitlement and not realising that many many people are much worse off.
I do think the flat rate deductions are particularly unfair on single people and it should be capped at a maximum of 7% per occupant per spare bedroom.
<APPLAUDS PARSING> ( in shouty capitals)
Anyone remember bailing out banks? Anyone remember the failed mansion tax? Or the tax cut for those earning £1 million p/a? Or Philip Green salting his fortune away in Monaco with his wife so paying no tax?
Any cash forthcoming from them? No? Oh well, pick on some disabled widows instead then.
God Almighty. What kind of country is this?
Council housing shouldn't be the last resort of the desperate any more than the NHS is
Julia I agree with your comment re: bank bailouts. But surely you're not suggesting that council housing should be as freely accessible as socialized health care. That's madness.
Why do people think 'private renting is really hard, council renting is really easy, so we should make council renting really hard as well' ?
I just do not get that mean attitude.
Surely we should be making private rental more secure and affordable. Most people would prefer to private rent, you get to choose where you live and that means what floor, not on an estate etc.
But no, in this society its all about 'I cant have it so no-one should'
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.
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.
"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?
"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?
(Council house tenants are tax payers too btw!)
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.
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 . 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"
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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?
"Good housing benefits everyone."
This can not be said often enough!
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
'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.
but they can't make you homeless can they?
But thinking on this, if you cannot swap, and cannot afford the increase, then you become arrears, which allow for eviction, then they say you have made yourself homeless. Catch 22
"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 you are having real problems with the maths here. You seem to think the government is building houses and then giving them away!
Building council housing is an investment for the tax-payer. The cost of building the house is paid many times over by the rent over the years, and the government still owns the asset.
In fact, someone living in council housing, and paying their rent out of wages will be paying more money into the public purse than many people living in their own homes. So council tenants could well be subsidising you!
"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."
There is a massive shortage in council housing. Vast numbers of "over-occupied" tenants are not being offered smaller properties to move into, as they don't exist.
They will be hit by the bedroom tax regardless.
Yes, lots of people will be made homeless because of this.
they really need to invest, it's £500 a month roughly for a council house, so not overly cheap, private is £650 a month. I would rather my rent be paid to the council, it would allow me spend more, helping the economy.
*"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 you are having real problems with the maths here. You seem to think the government is building houses and then giving them away!
Building council housing is an investment for the tax-payer. The cost of building the house is paid many times over by the rent over the years, and the government still owns the asset.
In fact, someone living in council housing, and paying their rent out of wages will be paying more money into the public purse than many people living in their own homes. So council tenants could well be subsidising you!*
I think you'll find my math is spot on.
Google opportunity cost.
If the taxpayer invests say, 10GBP in social housing and this is rented at 1/year by the council instead of the prevailing market value of 2/year, then the 1 differential is a subsidy. The taxpayer could invest his 10 in an investment fund and reap a higher return than government housing. It doesn't matter that council housing isn't free; if it's renting it for less than market value, then it's a subsidy.
With reference to council housing, market forces and subsidies - given the age of most council housing stock, it is likely to have paid for itself many times over. In this area - council housing stock consists of pre-1920s mining cottages, which were built by the coal board and sold on to local councils (at a very low rate per house) in the 1960s. Therefore, removing the cost of repair and maintenance, any rents collected go straight back into the public purse. AKAIK, the situation is similar in most of the north, where council housing came from local industries.
Arguing that low rents are equivalent to a subsidy is a bit of a strawman argument. As has already been mentioned in this thread: the system of low rents and secure tenancies in the social sector should be the norm. The private sector is out of step with what people actually want and need and should be regulated, as it is in other parts of Europe.
Saski The situation with non-doms in London sounds similar to those with holiday homes in rural and coastal areas.
This is what Westminster are doing to those who can't afford the extra rent
It's a freaking joke - this policy has achieved nothing except costing the tax payer more and disrupting families for political posturing - tossers
How is it a straw man argument? I'm genuinely baffled over that. Low-cost social housing is a subsidy.
I'm not even really arguing against it, I'm just pointing out that it is a transfer of wealth from taxpayer to tenant - and it will remain a contentious issue. I'm surprised by the number of people on this thread who support of social housing, but are unwilling to concede that it is in fact a subsidy. It doesn't matter if council housing pays for itself; what matters is whether the return on investment rivals the prevailing market rate for similar investments. Or an even easier hurdle to clear in 2013; the rate on a homeowner's mortgage.
Saski, no you are still not getting this.
The figure that matters is how much the council actually paid to build the house. Once that's paid, any more money, over and above running costs and maintenance is profit for the tax payer.
It's irrelevant how much the market value of private housing is, that's not part of this equation and has no bearing on whether the tax payer is making a profit out of the scheme or not!
I don't care two hoots if social housing is or is not a subsidy.....not did I care two hoots when I had a mortgage and my own place.
All I know is that I am bloody grateful it exists as without it I would be homeless now.
Lets stop bickering over whether its subsidised or not and be grateful we have it and pissed off about the lack of it for too many other people.
Finally, when my marriage broke down and I had to move 200miles back to my old town I was housed on the local sink estate...the type of place where nobody wants to live. I got it as it was all they has......it had three bedrooms and at the time I was in full time work and paying rent.
Four years in I am now in a two bedroom house as DS is autistic and I needed an enclosed garden where he could have safe access to the outside.
IF I was in the old sink estate flat this bedroom tax would affect me as I am now on full housing benefit. I would not be able to move as nobody wants to live there (and I had the neighbour from hell). Nor did I really have any say in having been allocated it so would be stuck with this loss of income without being able to do anything about it. I can tell you I would be mightily pissed off.
Don't get me started in those with disabled children being penalised under this change. It is an attack on the poorest members of society....it won't free up housing as most of the single occupants of there bedroom + homes are elderly and they will not be affected.
aufaniae, how did you get to decide that the taxpayer's money has no opportunity cost?
What's your discount rate for the return on investment - i.e. for determining when you've broken even?
Can I just add to the mix that the government is not actually telling people to put kids into tiny rooms with each other etc. They are saying the tenants will get a reduction if they are under occupying the property. If you have 2 x 14 year old daughters, for example, they will under the rules, be expected to share, but if you have 2 bedrooms for them, they can still use them! It just means you get a reduction in your eligible rent. Also, if you require a bedroom for a carer to stay overnight, you will not have any deductions from your eligible rent amount.
It doesn't matter that council housing isn't free; if it's renting it for less than market value, then it's a subsidy.
I don't agree with this - even less so when the market value is so distorted. Lack of supply has pushed up prices out of most families reach so that Housing Benefit has to top up many peoples rent. Prices are extortionate - building more houses will inevitably lower the cost of housing for everyone - for those renting, buying and ultimately the HB bill will be lowered if people are then able to pay there own living costs.
Building more social housing can only be seen therefore as an investment in the long term.
"I'm just pointing out that it is a transfer of wealth from taxpayer to tenant"
Do you mean council housing or housing benefit?
When housing benefit is paid for social housing, the money is going back to the tax payer, no transfer of wealth there.
Or if you're talking about council housing, when a tenant gets a cheaper rent than a private property, all that means is that they are getting a better deal. It's not a transfer of wealth.
The big transfer of wealth is housing benefit to private LLs. That's a scandal IMO.
Why do you see the market rate as the "real" value btw?
A government LL is different to a private LL. If they don't house people, there are all sorts of other costs they must bear as a result of people being homeless. A private LL doesn't have to worry about these costs. As well as making money directly from the social housing schemes, governments / the tax payer save money when their population is properly housed (as the population generally have better health, don't need emergency housing, have better prospects and so pay more tax, commit fewer crimes etc).
A government must take all sorts of things into account to find the "real" value of something. The market value is something an investor can take as a yardstick for whether something is a good investment for them. Not so a government, they have to look at a much bigger picture to get the "real" value to the tax payer.
It's a fucking stupid idea, it's going to cause massive problems. We definitely need more social housing rather than less and I think the government needd to recognise as well that children may require a room at both parents homes if the parents are separated and the children split there time between both parents. Also imo not allocating a room for foster children is madness.
Housing benefit legislation does now allow a bedroom to be allowed for use by a carer who lives elsewhere but stays regularly and also thanks to a recent legal case disabled children who cannot share can be allocated their own room when working out how many rooms are needed. The own room for some disabled children rule is very new so maybe not very well known so worth pointing out to housing benefit staff if anyone is in that situation.
Many councils have also set aside dhp funds to help foster carers as the last thing any council wants is to loose foster carers so while not guaranteed there is a pretty good chance of getting it long term.
I'm pointing these things out to try to reassure people and also so people know what they can apply for not to diminish very valid points about what a stupid, unfair law it is. The bedroom tax is an awful idea and mp's need to be told this by everyone as mp's are the ones with the power to change this.
I don't think many councils make much money out of rent. Repairs and maintenace cost more than the rent covers. And very few people pay full rent in any case. I think most councils were quite pleased to get rid of their council houses and couldn't wait to sell them. The solution is council houses for people in need and who have low incomes. And not one person sitting in a four bedroomed house for the rest of their life. And people quite able to afford their own house should not be eligible to keep their council house. That would free up enough properties for those in need.
Saski Why it is a strawman argument has been explained by aufaniae
"And people quite able to afford their own house should not be eligible to keep their council house. That would free up enough properties for those in need."
That's one of those things which might make sense for a minute or two when you see it on paper. But have a think about what it means in reality for the people involved and society too and you'll see it's a terrible idea.
For areas where there is a lot of council housing in one place, if people with jobs have to move out, those areas will quickly become ghettos with no role models in work.
If people are forced to move on it will destroy communities.
It will create a bigger burden on the state in terms of caring responsibilities if people move away from neighbours and family they perform informal caring for. (What happened to the big society?!)
It's a ridiculous reverse incentive for people to get jobs if, when they do they will lose their home, and all the upheaval that goes with it e.g. uprooting DCs.
If there is a problem with supply, why not build more?!
"I don't think many councils make much money out of rent. Repairs and maintenace cost more than the rent covers. And very few people pay full rent in any case. I think most councils were quite pleased to get rid of their council houses and couldn't wait to sell them."
Do you have any evidence for this?
To put it another way: do repairs and maintenance on your house cost more than your rent or mortgage Viviennemary? That's not how it works for me, or anyone else I know - apart from people who live in do-er-uppers - so why would it be different for social housing?
'I think most councils were pleased to get rid of their council houses and couldn't wait to sell them' - you must be thinking of the scandal in Westminster during the reign of Shirley Porterof Homes for Votes fame. That nice Tory lady who was caught gerrymandering - getting rid of council houses because she thought they encouraged labour voting. She was found to have acted illegally, was charged £27m for her wrong-doing, but fought it all the way and only forked out £12m. No doubt the current government are champing at the bit to adopt her shameful policies of dumping homeless families in abestos-ridden fleapits...
(She was also the Tesco heiress. I'm not saying there's any link between passing off dodgy horsemeat as beefburgers and exploiting the poor and the taxpayer but it makes you wonder...)
I don't think many councils make much money out of rent. Repairs and maintenace cost more than the rent covers. And very few people pay full rent in any case.
Getting your information from the Daily Mail by any chance?
I know a lot of people who live in HA and council homes - all of which work and pay full rent, most of the repairs are done by them too as the council don't do work to a good standard. I know families who have put kitchens and bathrooms in at their own expense.
In Little Tygas link. I know its a small point in the scheme of things but can you imagine the knock on effect on the NHS when their chlolesterol levels have skyrocketed due to eating takeaways every day.
Also the knock-on effect on police and social services when people are forced to live in such overcrowded conditions.
One point that people often miss- social housing is non means tested! So while there are undoubtably many who can not afford the tax, equally there are many who can! They can afford the increase in rent, as it will apply to everyone in social housing, not just those on hb. I have a colleague in her fifties with only her and her husband in three bedroom flat, joint income more than 50k, absolutely she should pay more than she currently does.
If your colleague joint income is over £50,000 she won't be affected. She won't be eligible for HB, and can easily pay. People like her are the issue. It's the over 600,000 tenants who do claim HB and who can not afford to pay.
The knock on effect on disease is something else to be concerned about IMO. If we have more crowed housing conditions, TB will probably rise for example.
DS had to have a TB jab when he was a baby as we lived in Hackney and the rate is high there.
A study into why the incidence of TB is so high in Hackney found that there was one main factor was overcrowding.
Sorry, People like her are not the issue
But people like her should not be in social housing! I work for a housing association and we have many tenants not getting HB but have been in their flats for years and could afford to buy or rent privately and choose not too.
Social housing was never intended to be assigned only to the most needy. It was always intended to be a service anyone could use. People of all classes lived in it - houses were set aside for police officers, firefighters, paramedics. teachers lived in it in the areas they worked. Even vicars and MPs often lived in council houses. It was intended to be diverse and egalitarian. It is only since Thatcher that it has been seen as something for the destitute.
That may historically have been the case but it is simply no longer realistic. It is wrong that I have loads of young people living in homeless hostels on next to nothing, when my employer has countless houses filled with well off tradesmen etc who can afford to pay full market rent, not the couple of hundred a month they currently are.
Yes, that is wrong. But the answer is to build more houses, not to punish vulnerable people for having one.
When I say wrong, I mean that people are languishing in hostels, not that other people have a decent, affordable, secure roof over their heads.
The problem is that there is no money or land to simply build more social housing. I strongly believe that social housing should only be there for those that need it most. Both from ethical reasons and financial- while social housing is being used by those that don't actually need it, the government is having to spend more on the homeless through the running of hostels and paying for hotels etc. It is a financial drain.
scarlettsmummy2 - there's loads of money to build new social housing! There's still a desperate shortage but most of the larger Housing Associations are actively building. Recent changes to Housing Finance mean that councils are able to build for the first time in decades.
As for social rents not covering repairs and maintenance of the properties...
...that's not the case in most areas. The exceptions are inner city areas with high rise blocks. System-built 1960s flats are coming to the end of their useful lives. I live and work in an area where the social housing is of traditional brick construction and the picture is quite rosy since the move to self financing in Arpil 2012. Up till then we had more than 40% of our rental income taken away to subsidise other areas.
And in case anyone is wondering - Council Housing is not paid for by Council Tax. Councils that retain housing stock have a separate, ring-fenced account called the Housing REvenue Account.
I agree that there is some money, not loads, and the grant has reduced in the last year. Also, many HA are now going in to mid market rents, great for those on work, but won't help those who are unemployed.
hmm, how come those who are over occupying dont get increase in benefits though?
Join the discussion
Please login first.