Bedroom tax fears confirmed

by Richard on January 14, 2016

From the Joint Public Issues Team

Announced quietly, on the last day of Parliament in 2015, the findings from the Government-ordered evaluation of the bedroom tax make disturbing reading. 75% of those affected are cutting back on food.

The bedroom tax was one of the most controversial and widely condemned policies included within the Welfare Reform and Work Bill 2012. When the policy was announced in January 2013, the Government stated that the bedroom tax could be changed if it had unforeseen impacts. Baptist, Methodist and United Reformed Churches later created this briefing explaining why the bedroom tax, alongside other changes to housing, posed a serious risk of increasing inequality and poverty.

The new research, conducted by Ipsos MORI and the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning, has confirmed campaigners’ fears. Among other findings:

  • 78% regularly run out of money by the end of the month
    for the control group not affected by the bedroom tax, the figure of those who cut back on food was the lesser figure of 56% proving the direct link between the bedroom tax and lack of food
  • 46% have cut back on heating
  • Only one in nine found alternative accommodation – this cuts against the stated purpose of the bedroom tax to compel tenants to downsize to smaller properties

A government spokeswoman was quoted as saying “It is wrong that under the previous system taxpayers had to subsidise benefit claimants to live in houses that are larger than they require”. Yet the research supports previous claims that smaller properties are simply not available in the needed quantities.

With affected individuals having to do without food and heating, the bedroom tax is a recipe for ill-health. We have also blogged on how the Prime Minister’s previous claim that disabled people are exempt from the bedroom tax is simply untrue.

The Government’s preferred term for the bedroom tax is the spare room subsidy – with the implication that tenants with one or more ‘spare rooms’ are enjoying more space than they deserve. To encourage claimants to move, the bedroom tax comprises an ‘under-occupancy penalty’ of 14% of housing benefit for one extra room and 25% for two or more extra rooms. Among all the policies introduced in the last round of welfare reform, the punitive nature of the bedroom tax was particularly marked.

In short, the bedroom tax is a risk to people’s health and is mean spirited and punitive. The Government should honour its commitment of January 2013 and review it – or better, scrap it.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }


susan wright 01.14.16 at 7:01 pm

Well I use my second bedroom as a come dining room and office even though I have a bed in it that I use myself, when I cannot get comfy in my normal bed. Also I have to use it as a bedroom when my daughter visits me as she lives away. I suffer with chronic multi athropathy mialgia. I dont think it is far for anybody to have to pay this extra council tax. It should have been scraped before 2013.


tom norton 01.14.16 at 11:31 pm

This policy is utterly morally bankrupt. How in this country, with its very long Christian tradition, this sort of human travesty could emerge is quite beyond belief.

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