It’s one year to the day that the bedroom tax aka the spare room subsidy aka some nitwit’s idea from the DWP came into effect. And quite frankly it is not an anniversary to savour. Recently released stats by/via the National Housing Federation (NHF), the BBC and the Guardian has highlighted the issues faced by social housing residents and social landlords.
- Just 6% (roughly 30,000 out 498,000 affected) of tenants have moved as a result of the bedroom tax
- Failed to make the savings it expected to (apparently it has never been solely about saving money…)
- Personal debt and rent arrears of those affected by the bedroom tax have risen
How can we resolve a problem like the bedroom tax?
Despite Iain Duncan Smith smacking anyone with a metaphorical wet plimsoll who dares to deem otherwise, it is unlikely that the bedroom tax will last beyond a Conservative (OK, Coalition) Government.
In all its infinite wisdom the Government wants more 1 bed housing built to offset the drastic shortage of smaller accommodation now needed due to the introduction of the bedroom tax. But as Ian Munro the Chief Executive of New Charter Housing makes clear in his opinion piece dans le Guardian, the social housing sector has other ideas.
“To be building homes now that will be with us for the next 100 years as an answer to the iniquitous, incompetent and inevitably short-lived bedroom tax lacks foresight.”
FYI – Mr Munro also referred to the policy as “barking mad”, never met the chap but I like him already.
Whilst I admire his honesty and opinion, this point of view does cause a bit of an issue. The number of smaller homes for families to downsize into do not meet the demand both in terms of quantity of properties and their locality. A significant number of people choose to stay and pay (or not pay as the case may be) due to close family/friendship ties within an area. As such, if no further smaller homes are to be forthcoming from the social housing sector we have a bit of a problem. Arrears will rise and people risk losing their homes and racking up substantial levels of debt. We may have to hope the private sector, known for it’s socially minded spirit, will save the day. After that miracle I may just knock out god (Sin City reference there for you graphic novel/movie remakes of graphic novel lovers out there).
However, in terms of the bedroom tax most people are just going to have to tough it out and hope the other reforms don’t bite them so hard that they have to go to the modern day equivalent of the poor house. Oh yea, that’s what social housing is…
The first year of the bedroom tax has pretty much been a full on disaster. Vast numbers of the poor are being pushed further into poverty due to the ineptitude of those who are meant to be working for them Social landlords are looking at having to scale back development plans, starving the country of much needed new homes. Worst of all I have to continuously look at articles on and/or about Iain Duncan Smith. Not cool. Here’s hoping the next 12 months are the last of this ill thought out, poorly delivered policy.