The new duty will plunge Britons into poverty, including members of the armed forces, the disabled and elderly.
The new law, so-called “bedroom tax” will be imposed from April by the Guvernment.
All social housing tenants of working-age will have their housing benefit docked if they are judged to have a spare bedroom. For 670,000 households already struggling to pay bills and rent while feeding themselves or their children, that means losing an average of £14 a week, and up to £80 a month. Misery awaits.
The policy has two stated aims: firstly, to bring down the housing benefits bill; secondly, to free up under-occupied social housing to help overcrowded families. The Government is absolutely right to argue that £21bn worth of taxpayers’ money is wasted on housing benefit. But it is paid out because our economy is blighted by a combination of high unemployment and underemployment, low wages and excessive rents, leaving large sections of the population unable to afford their housing costs. A huge chunk of housing benefit has become a subsidy for private landlords who scrounge off the taxpayer, knowing they can charge extortionate rents and the state will pick up the tab. Controlling rents – as in Germany – would be a more effective and humane way of reducing the bill.
What do the changes mean?
The size criteria in the social rented sector will restrict housing benefit to allow for one bedroom for each person or couple living as part of the household, with the following exceptions:
•Children under 16 of 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
Who will be affected?
All claimants who are deemed to have at least one spare bedroom will be affected. This includes:
•Separated parents who share the care of their children and who may have been allocated an extra bedroom to reflect this. Benefit rules mean that there must be a designated ‘main carer’ for children (who receives the extra benefit)
•Couples who use their ‘spare’ bedroom when recovering from an illness or operation
•Foster carers because foster children are not counted as part of the household for benefit purposes
•Parents whose children visit but are not part of the household
•Families with disabled children
•Disabled people including people living in adapted or specially designed properties.
How much will people lose?
The cut will be a fixed percentage of the Housing Benefit eligible rent. The Government has said that this will be set at 14% for one extra bedroom and 25% for two or more extra bedrooms.
The Government’s impact assessment shows that those affected will lose an average of £14 a week. Housing association tenants are expected to lose £16 a week on average.
How many people will see their benefit cut?
The proposal will affect an estimated 660,000 working-age social tenants – 31% of existing working-age housing benefit claimants in the social sector. The majority of these people have only one extra bedroom.
Need more detail on how the bedroom tax will be applied?
Read the regulations on the social sector size criteria or bedroom tax.
Do the regulations define a bedroom?
No. The Government’s view is that it is for landlords to specify the size of the property and this ought to match what is on any tenancy agreement and reflect the level of rent charged. The bedroom tax will not take account of whether a room is a single or a double bedroom. A room either is a bedroom or is not a bedroom.
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bedroom tax, benefit, cuts, government, housing, housing benefits, law