Bedroom tax was Labour's idea

I WAS surprised to read Cllr Tickridge’s letter, (Guardian, January 29), describing changes to housing benefit to reflect under-occupancy (bedroom tax) as ‘callous and illogical’ bearing in mind its principles originated under the previous Labour Government.

These came via a pilot project in 2001, changes to local housing allowance in 2008 and also Labour’s part in the recent changes to the housing register in Cheshire West, as follows: 1. Labour’s 2001 pilot said: “The under-occupation pilot encourages housing benefit recipients living in under-occupied social housing to move to smaller and cheaper accommodation in order to make more efficient use of housing stock”.

2. The present Government’s reforms are based on the bedroom requirement principles Labour itself introduced for social tenants of private landlords in 2008 Local Housing Allowance.

3. The recent changes to Cheshire West’s housing allocation policy which Graham Evans MP mentioned but Cllr Tickridge curiously omitted were agreed by a cross-party working group of Cheshire West Councillors i.e. both Conservative and Labour.

I am aware the recent changes to housing benefit and the housing allocation policy have caused difficulties, as no doubt did the changes to local housing allowance in 2008 however as has been seen recently in this letters page, Labour and Cllr Tickridge appear to have selective amnesia when it comes to anything before 2010. The impact of the previous Labour Government and the legacy of the decisions they took still affect us all now in the difficult decisions Conservatives make for the country’s long term benefit.

Clr Charles Fifield Weaver and Cuddington Ward

Comments (2)

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4:37pm Fri 7 Feb 14

Daniel18 says...

Clr Fifield - I notice how you use the words 'based on the bedroom requirement principles Labour itself introduced' - I presume what you are trying to say is that Labour wanted to encourage people into smaller homes - so the Tories did it the only way they know how to - TAXED them!
Clr Fifield - I notice how you use the words 'based on the bedroom requirement principles Labour itself introduced' - I presume what you are trying to say is that Labour wanted to encourage people into smaller homes - so the Tories did it the only way they know how to - TAXED them! Daniel18

12:01am Thu 27 Feb 14

Ray McHale says...

Labour looked at this issue - as everyone wants to encourage people to match their housing needs to the size of property. But they clearly rejected such a stupid and blunt instrument as used by the Conservatives. It is one thing to introduce a policy for new allocations - but entirely another to introduce a charge when there is no smaller property for people to move to. Many people "over-occupying" were allocated their property by the Council. If they had turned it down they might have lost any entitlement to housing. Few 1 bedroom properties have been built, so many single people were offered 2 bedroom flats. Families with 2 young children were allocated vacant 3 bedroom houses on the assumption the children would have a room each as they grew older. Now these families are penalised and expected to move to 2 bedroom properties - only to want to return to a 3 bedroom once their first child is 10 or 16. A third of people affected by Bedroom Tax are disabled, many finding it hard to share a bedroom, Some have had thousands spent adapting their property - but now the council ? housing association wants them to move out, and spend £thousands of public money adapting a new house. Separated parents who maintain the vital link with their children by regularly having them to stay, are now told they will be taxed for having a room for their children to sleep in. Presumably the Government would prefer them to dump their responsibility for their children. The major over-occupiers of property are retired people, who might reasonable be encouraged to move into bungalows or sheltered accommodation - but of course the Bedroom Tax doesn't apply to them, The main impact of the Tax is to force people - especially single people - to move out of their council allocated 2 bedroom property into smaller private rented property. The fact that this costs the Tax-payer more in Housing Benefit (because of the higher private sector rents) is of course conveniently ignored. The Bedroom Tax is based on a sensible idea of encouraging people to down-size, but rather than incentives - such as redecoration and removal cost grants - this Government has hit the nut with a sledge hammer; a stupid policy which benefits no-one and hurts many. The cost of additional rent arrears, court proceedings and evictions will only add to the costs. The illegal charging of tenants who were claiming housing benefit in a property before 1996 will now have to be repaid, showing the Government could not even implement their bad policy competently.
Labour looked at this issue - as everyone wants to encourage people to match their housing needs to the size of property. But they clearly rejected such a stupid and blunt instrument as used by the Conservatives. It is one thing to introduce a policy for new allocations - but entirely another to introduce a charge when there is no smaller property for people to move to. Many people "over-occupying" were allocated their property by the Council. If they had turned it down they might have lost any entitlement to housing. Few 1 bedroom properties have been built, so many single people were offered 2 bedroom flats. Families with 2 young children were allocated vacant 3 bedroom houses on the assumption the children would have a room each as they grew older. Now these families are penalised and expected to move to 2 bedroom properties - only to want to return to a 3 bedroom once their first child is 10 or 16. A third of people affected by Bedroom Tax are disabled, many finding it hard to share a bedroom, Some have had thousands spent adapting their property - but now the council ? housing association wants them to move out, and spend £thousands of public money adapting a new house. Separated parents who maintain the vital link with their children by regularly having them to stay, are now told they will be taxed for having a room for their children to sleep in. Presumably the Government would prefer them to dump their responsibility for their children. The major over-occupiers of property are retired people, who might reasonable be encouraged to move into bungalows or sheltered accommodation - but of course the Bedroom Tax doesn't apply to them, The main impact of the Tax is to force people - especially single people - to move out of their council allocated 2 bedroom property into smaller private rented property. The fact that this costs the Tax-payer more in Housing Benefit (because of the higher private sector rents) is of course conveniently ignored. The Bedroom Tax is based on a sensible idea of encouraging people to down-size, but rather than incentives - such as redecoration and removal cost grants - this Government has hit the nut with a sledge hammer; a stupid policy which benefits no-one and hurts many. The cost of additional rent arrears, court proceedings and evictions will only add to the costs. The illegal charging of tenants who were claiming housing benefit in a property before 1996 will now have to be repaid, showing the Government could not even implement their bad policy competently. Ray McHale

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