Tagged: under-occupying

Newcastle residents ‘going hungry to pay bedroom tax’

Families in Newcastle are going hungry just so they can hang onto their homes following the introduction of the bedroom tax, a report has said.

Research released by Newcastle University reveals communities are being ripped apart by the tax, which has left people in the region feeling “hopeless”.

Many are finding it almost impossible to manage ever-decreasing incomes, with many spiralling into debt and rent arrears in order to afford bare essentials such as food.

Tyneside, where the research was carried out, is disproportionately affected by the bedroom tax with some 50,000 households estimated to be ‘under-occupying’.

Social housing provider Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) reported last year that 66% of people affected by the bedroom tax were in rent arrears.

Residents were finding it increasingly difficult to buy simple, basic foodstuffs and in some extreme cases, cutting down to just one meal a day, or going to bed early to evade hunger and keep warm – a pattern more prevalent among parents to ensure their children were properly fed.

The University research – A qualitative study of the impact of the UK ‘bedroom tax’ – looks at the effects of the tax on the area.

It followed people living in Walker in Newcastle, which is in the top 10% most deprived areas of the UK, where around 650 homes are affected by the bedroom tax.

Dr Suzanne Moffatt, who was involved in the research, said:

“The bedroom tax reduces a home to simply bricks and mortar.

“However, these are homes that people invest in over time, places of safety within communities that offer friendship and support.

“As a consequence, many of those we interviewed elected to pay the tax in order to stay in their homes, resulting in cutting back on essentials such as food and heat to do so.

“Rather than improve housing stock efficiency and save tax payers money, the effect of the bedroom tax in the North East is likely to make the distribution of social housing less efficient.”

 

Dr Moffatt says the new study undermines Government claims that implementing the ‘removal of the spare room subsidy’ in April 2013 would not have a detrimental impact on people’s health and well-being.

She added:

“Monumental effort was put in by people to simply ‘survive’. Their accounts powerfully demonstrate how loss of income as a result of the bedroom tax has a detrimental effect on mental health, with many saying it had left them feeling ‘hopeless’.”

Researchers within Newcastle University’s Institute of Health and Society also looked at the YHN pilot scheme set up in help people in response to the introduction of the tax.

Neil Scott, director of Tenancy Services, said:

“We encouraged residents to enrol onto training courses. For those that took part, it was highly beneficial, with a small number of mainly short-term jobs created within our organisation.”

The pilot ran for seven months from September 2013 to April 2014 and included budgeting and housing advice, with a focus on testing the Government’s claims that work pays by supporting residents who were farthest from the labour market to gain employment.

Dr Moffatt added:

“Although this pilot was fantastic for those involved, one person working over seven months can only achieve so much.

“At a time when local authority budgets are being increasingly tightened, it is always going to be difficult to fund interventions of this kind.

“These people are not languishing around on benefits by any means – they face many complex barriers to employment such the poor state of the local labour market, as well as mental or physical health issues and lack of qualifications.”

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 16 Mar 2015

Bedroom Tax One Step Closer To Abolition After Tories Are Defeated In Crucial Vote

The ‘bedroom tax’ came one step closer to complete abolition today (5 September 2014), after the Tories were defeated in a House Of Commons vote.

Liberal Democrat and Labour MP’s joined forces to deal David Cameron one of his most humiliating defeats so far, by 306 votes to 231.

The private members bill, brought forward by Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George, demanded that ALL social housing tenants should be made exempt from the hated housing policy, unless they refuse an offer of a smaller home.

Under changes introduced by the government in 2013, social housing tenants are required to contribute toward their rent, if they are ‘under-occupying’ their home, through a deduction in the amount of Housing Benefit they can receive. The exact deduction is dependent upon the number of ‘spare bedrooms’ in the property: 14% for one spare bedroom or a 25% deduction in Housing Benefit for two or more.

It’s only the second time the coalition partners have voted against each other and prompted calls for the pact to be broken up immediately. Tory MP  accused the Liberal Democrats of being “devious and untrustworthy”, after the party initially voted in favour of the ‘bedroom tax’ when it was first introduced. He angrily declared that the coalition had “officially come to an end”.

bedroom-tax-protest-bristol

 

Bringing forward the bill, Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George said:

“We have had long enough to tell how these regulations have had an impact. It is quite clear that if we are to ensure that…the vulnerable are properly protected, the rules should be changed so that existing tenants are not penalised when they cannot move into smaller accommodation because this is not available in their locality.”

Virtually every Labour MP was present for today’s crucial vote, said the Shadow Defence Minister Vernon Coaker, and the victory will now path the way for the bill to move to the next stage. The BBC’s parliamentary correspondent Mark D’Arcy said that there was a “fighting chance” the ‘bedroom tax’ could now be completely abolished, before the next general election.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, has reiterated Labour’s pledge to scrap the ‘bedroom tax’, if the party wins an outright majority in next years general election.

The Government should scrap the hated Bedroom Tax following the overwhelming vote by MPs against the cruel tax on bedrooms today”, she said.

“David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s cruel and unfair Bedroom Tax has hit hundreds of thousands of people across the country causing misery, hardship and forcing families to rely on food banks. If the government won’t ditch the Bedroom Tax, then the next Labour government will.”

> Great that its happened… just a shame that the Lib Dems and Labour only find they had consciences when there’s a general election in the offing. Earlier action might have saved a lot of heartache for many people.

Source – Welfare News Service,  05 Sept 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/bedroom-tax-one-step-closer-abolition-tories-defeated-crucial-vote/

Public Support For Axing ‘Bedroom Tax’ Has Never Been Higher

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.

 Source – Welfare News Service,  18 July 2014
http://welfarenewsservice.com/public-support-axing-bedroom-tax-never-higher/