Sunday, April 7, 2013

Missing the point of "the Bedroom Tax"

Of course, the Bedroom Tax is not a tax: it is the removal of a subsidy, which is not the same thing at all.

However...

The point of the Bedroom Tax is not to address the housing shortage in this country (because a shortage of physical buildings does not really exist); the point is to address the shortage of suitable housing.

There are various organisations—Local Councils and Housing Associations, essentially—who have a legal obligation to provide housing for people. However, it is often very difficult to house these people (whilst complying with the other laws governing what is suitable): this is largely because tenancies, once awarded, are not only for life but can actually be passed on as an inheritance (although only once).

As such, a woman with four kids can be awarded a large house; once those kids have grown up and moved on (probably to other subsidised tenancies), the mother is still allowed to live in the four bedroom house. And then to pass it on to one of her children.

What this means is that there are many people living in subsidised houses that have lots more rooms than they need—whilst down the road, there might be another mother with four kids who is forced to live in a two bedroom flat.

As I said above, there is a shortage of suitable housing—not an absolute shortage.

I have spoken to housing providers who are cautiously in favour of the Bedroom Tax. This is because it will allow them a fighting chance to comply with their legal obligations to provide suitable homes for the homeless.

And, ultimately, this is what the Welfare State was envisioned to be—a safety net for those reduced to penury on the streets, not a lifestyle choice for those who want a nice life paid for by everyone else.

7 comments:

The Travelling Toper said...

Like many other bloggers a masterpiece of logic. It may be worth remembering that the woman who lives in a big house is a minority whilst the number of people who have to relocate are losing their HOMES.

Rich Tee said...

Not only do council tenants get low, fixed rents and lifetime tenancies but this government is also making it easier for them to buy their properties with large discounts.

Those of us in private rented accommodation can just go hang.

JuliaM said...

If you don't own it, it's not your home. It belongs to someone else.

The Travelling Toper said...

I would imagine that people having lived in a council house for a number of years quite often paid the correct amount if they bought the said property after paying rent for a number of years.42
If you live in private rented accommodation are you not entitled to any benefit towards your housing costs or indeed any benefit in forms of tax credits, family allowance etc?
As for Julia M I would have thought a mere semblance of humanity in your person could see the difference between a home and the ownership of the property. After all, does the private house buyer own the property until the mortgage is paid off?

JuliaM said...

They are at the very least making an effort to ensure they own it. Which is more than can be said for social housing...

Anonymous said...

The housing situation is a consequence of the policy of importing thousands of needy people (for what reason I cannot figure out, although there clearly is one). They get all the council homes and tasty offers to buy, the rest of us go in private.

Anonymous said...

How is social housing more subsidized than private accommodation??

The Council simply doesn't have to make a profit on the property (in many cases the property has recouped the initial cost a 100 times over) and as such the rents represent Admin and maintenance costs etc.., this doesn't mean it's subsidized.

Having said that I am in favour of new Rental Contracts that allow the council to alter the terms if the occupancy changes.

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