Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Hidden consequences of the Bedroom Tax

As you all know, we work very closely with Aragon Housing and their umbrella organisation Grand Union.

Far from making social housing allocation more efficient, in some areas the bedroom tax means tenants who can afford it are being offered houses with more rooms than they need

The role of the bedroom tax, as the work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan keeps on banging on about is to allocate social housing more efficiently, freeing up "under-occupied" larger social homes so that needy families living in overcrowded housing can move into them.

Grand Union Housing group, operates in an 'under occupied' area and has just published a report

It finds that in the absence of an overcrowding problem to solve, one possibly unintended consequence of the bedroom tax is that social tenants who can afford it are being offered houses with more rooms than they need.

This has turned the whole social agenda on its head and made it a rather perverse capitalist endeavour. Local demand for larger social homes from families in need in Grand Union's area has plummeted over the past year.

Thousands of people on the housing register are now excluded from bidding for social housing, even if they might plausibly qualify as being in need.

In addition to this households who genuinely need more living space are wary of bidding for a larger property that may make them subject to the bedroom tax in the future.

As a result, a growing number of larger Grand Union properties are becoming "void" after tenants move out. To fill this growing number of otherwise empty properties, three bedroom houses are now let to households which are not necessarily in priority social need, but crucially, do not require housing benefit support.

So, the net effect of tackling under-occupation through the bedroom tax, concludes Grand Union, is that:

The properties are... still being under-occupied, but by different people

Perhaps Duncan Smith could should consider this in his next review.

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