The Bedroom Tax Explained

In April 2013 the Conservatives introduced a change in the housing benefit rules for local social housing residents called the under-occupancy penalty. Critics like Labour dubbed it the bedroom tax. Since it has been introduced, families who are regarded to have too much living space by their local authority have received a reduced payment. Families are assessed to as how many bedrooms they actually need. The new rules allow one bedroom for each adult or couple. Children under the age of 16 are expected to share, if they are the same gender, and those under 10 are expected to share whatever their gender

The government have estimated that 666000 homes will be affected which is roughly a third of social sector claimants (private sector tenants have already similar rules). The amount of rent you can claim housing benefit for is reduced by 14% if you have one ‘spare’ bedroom and 25% if you have two or more ‘spare’ bedrooms. Official projections from the government predict that the taxpayer will save £505m in 2013-14 and £540m this year. However Professor Rebecca Tunstall at the University of York’s centre for housing policy claims due to deficiencies in the DWP model this is likely to be overstated of around £160m.

Campaigners have voiced concerns, claiming there is nowhere to relocate due to there not being a supply of smaller accommodation. Data from 107 local authorities in 2013 showed 86,000 households had so far been forced to look for one-bedroom homes, of which only 33,000 had become available in the past year. Public opinion attitudes are split as 49% of people are in agreement with the change while 33% are opposed. Labour and UKIP have promised to repeal the measure.

Yusuf Patel

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