Nearly half of the British public are now opposed to the controversial ‘bedroom tax’, a poll by YouGov has revealed.
The poll for The Sun found that 49% were opposed to the bedroom tax in July 2014, compared to 41% who still support the housing policy. This is in stark contradiction to March 2013, when 49% approved of cutting Housing Benefit for people under-occupying their social home and 38% disapproved.
Public support for the tax has not been higher than 42% since November 2013, while opposition to the policy is now at its higher ever level, according to the poll.
The poll comes after Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg announced a dramatic U-turn on his party’s earlier support for the tax. He said his party would seek to overhaul the policy, if it is still in government after the 2015 general election, by only penalising social housing tenants who refuse a smaller property.
Clegg would also seek to exempt sick and disabled people who need an extra bedroom.
> Well he says that now. Come the 2015 election, should he by some unexplainable cosmic oversight still find himself in power, it might well be a different story.
Ditto all the main parties. They’ll tell you what they think you want to hear, right up to the moment they’ve got your vote. Beyond that, there’s no guarantees.
His U-turn was slammed by Labour who accused him of “unbelievable hypocrisy”, after the party voted in favour of the bedroom tax and paved the way for its introduction. Without the support of Clegg’s party the policy would have fallen at the first hurdle.
Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander (Lib Dem MP) yesterday apologised to social housing tenants who had been evicted from their homes after fallen behind on their rent, as a direct result of the tax.
Under changes to housing benefit, introduced by the tory-led coalition government as part of widespread welfare reforms, social housing tenants deemed to be under-occupying a property must downsize to a smaller property, or contribute to their rent through a deduction in the amount of Housing Benefit they receive. The exact deduction depends upon how many spare bedrooms an affected household has in their home: 14% for one spare bedroom or 25% for two or more.
A study by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), sneaked out during David Cameron’s cabinet reshuffle, revealed that 59% of families affected by the bedroom tax are in arrears with their rent and less than 5% were able to downsize to a smaller property.
Despite the apparent failure and hardship caused by the under-occupation penalty, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith MP, somehow managed to hold on to his job – to the shock and dismay of many of our readers.
However, this sharp rise in the number of people opposed to the bedroom tax may at least give some of our readers hope that one day we will see the back of this hated housing policy.
YouGov surveyed 692 adults between 16-17 July 2014. The results were ‘weighted’ to provide an accurate picture (as possible) of wider public opinion.