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The Bedroom Tax

welfarechangesFrom April 2013 any social housing tenant who is judged to have extra bedrooms in their property will see deductions being made from their housing benefit. The deduction will be 14% for the first extra bedroom and 25% for those with more than one spare bedroom.


Who will be affected?

The size criteria allows one bedroom for each person or couple living as part of the household, with these exceptions:

  • Children under 16 of the same gender expected to share
  • Children under 10 expected to share regardless of gender
  • Disabled tenant or partner who needs non resident overnight carer will be allowed an extra bedroom

The Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) impact assessment estimates that 660,000 working age social tenants will be affected; 31% of the working age benefit claimants living in social housing.

Affected tenants by region: 

Eastern
50,000 30%
East Midlands
40,000
27%
London 80,000 22%
North East
40,000 37%
North West
110,000 43%
Scotland
80,000
33%
South East
40,000
22%
South West
30,000
20%
Wales
40,000
46%
West Midlands
60,000
31%
Yorkshire & Humberside
80,000
43%

The DWP impact assessment states “There is a mismatch between the accommodation required by tenants and the actual availability of accommodation. There is a surplus of three bedroom properties, based on the profile of existing working age tenants in receipt of  Housing Benefit, and a lack of one bedroom accommodation in the social sector.”

“In many areas this mismatch could mean that there are insufficient properties to enable tenants to move to accommodation of an appropriate size even if tenants wished to move and landlords were able to facilitate this movement. In these circumstances individuals may have to look further a field for appropriately sized accommodation or move to the private rented sector.” Given that the stated intention of this policy is to contain HB expenditure the incentive for tenants to move to the private rented sector is perverse, as HB costs for private rented sector properties are far higher than for social housing.

Even where tenants can find suitable social housing, the process of moving, changing tenancies etc. can take many weeks, as a result of which many tenants are likely to fall into arrears during this time.

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Mark Steel talks about the Bedroom Tax

Watch Mark Steel, writer and comedian talk about the "extraordinarily imaginative piece of unpleasantness" of the 'Bedroom Tax.'