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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?!

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."

vivizone Sun 31-Mar-13 06:57:35

I have c&p this:

Look at the NHF statement. It says that there are 1800,000 households that will need to downsize from 2 to 1 bed properties. It then says that 85,000 one beds became available. It then deduces that this will leave 95,000 families without anywhere to downsize to, blatantly ignoring the fact that a huge number of 1 beds will be freed up when the occupiers move into larger houses.

vivizone Sun 31-Mar-13 06:59:17

I am also wondering are pensioners exempt from the bedroom tax? if they're not exempt, wouldn't the Tories be worried of losing their vote?

YellowandGreenandRedandBlue Sun 31-Mar-13 07:30:31

It isn't the rent that is changing, it is the level of Hosuing benefit received which a government can vary.

But you're right, it is an ideologically driven dim-witted policy.

The fact it will cost the taxpayer more simply so the Tories can have the satisfaction of disrupting the lives of the poor is so galling. But yes, pensioners exempt as they vote Tory.

I personally want a government to invest in social housing, not spend money kicking the poor.

Angry doesn't cover how I feel about the changes. And not a single one affects me personally. But I believe in compassion and I think the casual way people look down on those who need help from our welfare state is really sad.

wonderingsoul Sun 31-Mar-13 07:38:20

its stupied. where are they expecting people to go? they cant all down size, so you will leave people struggling for some thign that the council allowed them to have. its not fair.
it would make more sense to implent a new rule. our little town has all ways had the same rules as the goverment are trying to implent (as in how many rooms you are allowwed)but if i go out of my town i could have got a 3 bedroom even though its just me and two young boys.

they should implent the new ruling, with out it effecting people all ready in these houses.

all exempting the elderly is really pointless as its them that hold most of the big family houses. (tough i dont agree they should have to pay, i just dont see why they decided they where exempt)

vivizone Sun 31-Mar-13 07:48:27

I completely agree Yellow. So what was the reason given for pensioners to be exempt? I think The Mirror said pensioners were also included in the bedroom tax.

None of the changes affects me but I too have compassion by the bucket load. Also it would only take losing my job to be in the same boat as those who are on welfare support.

I have never known a time as now where there is so much hatred for benefit claimants. It just shows you the power of the media.People are like sheep, they follow anything. It is easy to see how Hitler was able to control people to the extent that he did.

LornMowa Sun 31-Mar-13 07:48:36

One way to avoid the reduction in benefit would be to allow someone to move into the spare room.

aufaniae Sun 31-Mar-13 07:49:23

YANBU, it will be a disaster. I just hope people wake up enough to vote them out at the next election!

This, along with the benefits cap, will cause terrible disruption to so many people, including children, for no good reason and will make society poorer for us all as a result.

The maths doesn't even add up! These policies will cost money. Who do they think will pick up the bill of terrible havock to people's lives they're creating? It'll be all of us, as taxpayers and members of this society.

It's so nonsensical it makes me despair. sad

vivizone Sun 31-Mar-13 07:53:19

Do the people have the power to say NO? it seems the government just does not NOT care at all and does what it wants.

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.

YellowandGreenandRedandBlue Sun 31-Mar-13 07:54:04

I just quickly looked and if ony one half of a couple is a pensioner whenuniversal credit comes in then hey will be affected.

AThingInYourLife Sun 31-Mar-13 07:54:13

Cruel, expensive idiocy.

They are wasting public money on this bullshit.

Mrsdavidcaruso Sun 31-Mar-13 08:03:40

You are wrong about all pensioners voting tory my Dad is a pensioner and votes labour, in fact I think its more likely that a working class pensioner who had never been able to to afford to buy their own home (thats why they live in council and HA properties) are more likely to be labour voters.

armani Sun 31-Mar-13 08:05:51

The bedroom tax makes me laugh! It will end up costing the tax payers more. I work in a homeless hostel and the future is looking very bleak for the poorest in society.
For example a male living in a two bedroom property claiming hb will be 14% worse off a week. If he can't afford to cover this from his £70 a week benefit, eventually he will be evicted. If he then gets placed into a homeless hostel like ours, it will cost £820 pcm in hb. This will be covered by hb. We will then try to find him appropriate accommodation, but because all 1 bed council flats are occupied with people from downsizing, the accommodation we find will be from the private market. Costing significantly more in hb. It's a shambles.

BumpingFuglies Sun 31-Mar-13 08:19:18

LornMowa - would you want a lodger? What about those on Introductory Tenancies? They are not allowed to have a lodger. Also, think about the practicalities. Many 3 bedroom council houses are 2 bedrooms and a box room, say 8ft by 6ft. Who could reasonably "live" in a room that size? Not to mention areas where there is low demand for lodgings, for example rural areas.

LindyHemming Sun 31-Mar-13 08:31:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

stella1w Sun 31-Mar-13 08:34:26

Also, i think the rules dictate that people have to share, so if you have two kids they have to share a room even if it makes more sense to put them in separate rooms for sleep/privacy reasons. Ditto couples where one is disabled. If there are not enough smaller houses to go round the the bedroom tax is just cynical

TickleMyTitsTillFriday Sun 31-Mar-13 08:34:27

I have to say it confuses me.

If you rent privately you can only apply for housing benefit for the amount of bedrooms you need, according to the lha? Yes?

So why should it he any different if you are in social housing?

So confused!

manticlimactic Sun 31-Mar-13 08:42:48

If you took in a lodger then your benefit would down as they'll class the money as income on your benefit claim, so you'd get less. So getting in a lodger wouldn't really work I don't think.

I'm sure when I was thinking about swapping years ago for a 3 bed I was told I would only receive benefit for the amount of bedrooms I needed, which was 2). But I was working part time so maybe they only paid full rent if you were on full benefits

manticlimactic Sun 31-Mar-13 08:45:05

Oh and my sister is in a 3 bed. Hasn't worked for years (a whole other thread there). She's trying to get a one bed flat and swap hers for it but she can't get anything.

zwischenzug Sun 31-Mar-13 08:45:12

Pensioners are exempt I believe because most of them vote tory they are considered vulnerable. I don't object to the principle of the bedroom tax (although the implementation is wrong) but to exclude exactly the demographic that is blocking most of the desperately needed family housing in farcical.

BumpingFuglies Sun 31-Mar-13 08:45:29

armani that's exactly what makes the whole thing unworkable. You will see it first hand sad

aufaniae Sun 31-Mar-13 08:52:32

Yes, it's not as if the "spare" rooms are all genuinely spare. The government had decreed that same sex DCs should share until they're 16, and opposite sex until they're 10. Until very recently disabled DCs were not exempt from this but this seems to have been changed now.

Disabled adults are not exempt from this IIRC. So if one partner needs to sleep on a specially designed bed supplied by the NHS, for example if they have MS, and there is not enough room to fit this in the same bedroom as the other partner's bed then the family will be subject to bedroom tax. There was a poster her in exactly that position. (The NHS do not make double beds!)

How does penalising a couple in this position make sense?

And this is just one example. There are many more that are so obviously unjust.

lotsofdogshere Sun 31-Mar-13 08:57:41

The bedroom tax is part of an ideologically driven assault on people who are poor and often suffer ill health or disability. The comment that pensioners are exempt "because they vote tory" is another unnecessary attack on older people. There are simply no one bedroom flats/houses for people to move into. Parents who until now have been able to share the care of their children and have what is now called a spare bedroom, will be financially squeezed even harder than they currently are. Adults who care for a disabled partner will have to uproot themselves from a home that was allocated to them in recognition of their particular needs. It is cruel and unusual and reminds me of the 80's, - although I do believe it's worse now as we the government appear to have had considerable success in setting a Dickensian deserving and undeserving poor agenda.

hwjm1945 Sun 31-Mar-13 08:57:56

This is all 've err

christinarossetti Sun 31-Mar-13 08:58:25

OP, people who are evicted as a result of the bedroom tax (including those who for example use a spare bedroom to store medical equipment) or the poverty caused by universal credit won't be entitled to any further support with their housing.

Because they will be classes as having made themselves intentionally homeless.

Yes, that's right. Intentionally homeless.

So if you're unable to pay your rent because your HB allowance has been cut and there's nowhere to downsize, and because you now have to pay a significant proportion of your council tax, your disability benefits stop and you can't work out how to claim under the new system or you don't have a computer in order to do so, then yes, the system says that it's your fault.

Oh, and don't think about going to CAB for advice as millions have done over the years - the Coalition are practically going to destroy that too.

Poly Toynbee article

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