The so called ‘bedroom tax’ is not a tax (which is the withdrawal of earned money by the government).
The under-occupancy charge is the removal of benefits for excess rooms that others on housing waiting lists are desperate for. It is however important that the most vulnerable are protected from these measures. In order to do this there are a number of exemptions to fully protect pensioners, people with severely disabled children and people who need round-the-clock care from under-occupancy penalties. Furthermore the Lib Dems successfully campaigned to provide local authorities with an additional £30 million of Discretionary Housing Payments to help disabled people and foster carers. The under-occupancy penalty is being introduced to encourage more effective use of social housing. There are almost £1 million spare rooms being paid for by Housing Benefit for working-age, social rented sector tenants. This is not affordable when others are living in overcrowded accommodation. So it’s no wonder that under the last Labour government the housing benefits bill spiralled out of control, doubling to £23 billion. If that wasn’t bad enough they also built less social housing and spent less on housing than the Conservative government of John Major that preceded them. The fact of the matter is many people who privately rent and work can’t afford to live somewhere with spare rooms, so why should these same people foot the bill for benefits claimants to get spare rooms? Once again the Labour party are expecting those who work to foot the bill for people in receipt of benefits. It’s no wonder that the latest opinion polls show the majority of people are in favour of these measures.
Cllr James Baker