Labour launch campaign against the Bedroom Tax

8:25 am - March 5th 2013

by Sunny Hundal    

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Senior Labour MPs yesterday launched a campaign against the Bedroom Tax, encouraging Labour members to spread the word about its impact.

In an email sent to Labour members yesterday, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne wrote that the campaign would highlight the “incompetent, unfair and out of touch ‘bedroom tax’ David Cameron’s Government will introduce in April.”

The Labour party are framing the debate by contrasting the extra burden on poorer households with Osborne’s tax-cut for millionaires.

An image Labour are using

The email said:

While families of soldiers serving our country will have to find extra money for their son or daughter’s bedroom, 13,000 millionaires will get a tax cut worth £100,000 a year on average.

Two thirds of the households hit are home to someone who is disabled. Foster families will be hit – even if they have foster children in their ‘spare room’. Divorced parents and grandparents will be charged more if they want to keep a spare room for when their children or grandchildren come to stay.

To add to the chaos, the Department for Work and Pensions has admitted that there are not enough smaller properties for families to move to, yet the ‘bedroom tax’ will still hit households that don’t have the option to move.

Labour hope the campaign will put enough pressure on Cameron to re-think his plans.

The campaign website is here:

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Fight the cuts ,News

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Reader comments

Divorced parents and grandparents will be charged more if they want to keep a spare room for when their children or grandchildren come to stay.

Yep, this happened to a friend of mine. See here.

What a toxic mix of incompetence, and callous self interest this Con-Dem government displays. And then there is the corruption. Worse than Major’s.

This campaign is an important tactic: it is vital that cash raids on the less wealthy are seen as just that, and not the ending of some perk for scroungers. Labour need to keep getting the message across: the Tories are only in it for what they can get themselves.

I’m glad they have finally stepped forward (completely) this is a tax which would benefit the rich and disadvantage the already disadvantaged. Now for more…

Only the worst kind of mind could have come up with this idea.

There is a suggestion that people with extra bedrooms should take in lodgers. Have they never heard of child abuse.

5. Planeshift

Have at a look at the hansard record from last week when there was an opposition party debate. Absolutely staggering how little the tories understood about the policy. All it needed was another 15 or so lib dems to join the other parties and the tories would have been defeated.

Under the bedroom tax legislation, the government explicitly leaves it to social housing landlords to define what a ‘bedroom’ is as they see fit.

Knowsley Housing Trust is exploiting this to define ‘bedrooms’ in such a way that nobody loses out as ‘under-occupying’ their property.

Does Labour have a reason yet for why its councils that still own council housing stock don’t just define ‘bedrooms’ in such a way that none of their tenants are deemed to be under-occupying?

7. Just Visiting

Is it so wrong that where the tax payer is contributing to your housing benefit: that we make sure the tax payer gets a fair deal: if you have extra bedrooms, they should be freed up for others who could benefit from them.

Some on LC argue that there is a housing shortage in the UK, and that it is limiting the availability of rented property: I wonder – could anyone of that view speak up and say whether they support the bedroom tax as a means to make better use of the available accomodation.

7. Just Visiting

…and how many spare bedrooms are there in the average spare home? and yet people with spare homes act as a drain to the community on whichever flipping home is their spare one.

Talk about a fair deal? the people being fleeced for not making children share bedrooms and then get an unknown lodger (on whose rent is a taxable income) are buy and large tax payers. But they are not the ones who can pay an accountant to squirrel it away into an offshore account.

this is a regulation designed to tax poor people disproportionately.

“Is it so wrong that where the tax payer is contributing to your housing benefit: that we make sure the tax payer gets a fair deal”

Totally. Which is why we should oppose a policy that will cost the taxpayer more through:

1. Forcing people out of social housing into private rented housing – 2 bed private rent house usually more expensive than 3 bed social house.
2. more cost to social services through number of foster parents being reduced (foster parents are hit). Add to that long term costs of prison, crime etc that kids in local authority care are more likely to create without foster parents.
3. Bigger cost of lack of educational achievement caused by aspirations being reduced as kids realise their decision to go to uni means mum and dad getting financially hit. You lot spent the past decade moaning about disincentives in welfare system – at least have some fucking consistency and oppose this.
4. Increased recruitment costs for MOD as potential members of armed forces choose other careers to avoid parents/spouses being hit whenever they are in action.
5. Increased cost for social care as disabled people currently able to live outside (expensive) residential care homes have to move back in due to carers not being able to stay over.
6. Increased cost for local authorities for adapting homes to make them suitable for disabled people who have to move into smaller properties.
7. Increased policing costs in Northern Ireland as residents currently in segregated communities start moving all over the place – as pointed out by the SDLP in the parliamentary debate last week.

Thats before we even consider the costs associated with the stress of being forced to move home, increased treatment for people with mental health issues, administration costs etc. And then the long term costs of homelessness in terms of crime, ill health and so on (even a prison cell alone will cost the taxpayer some 40k a year). Or the opportunity costs of spending the money on these things.

It’s an incredibly bad deal for the taxpayer really.

It is not a tax, you are all being wilfully dishonest to describe it so. Same school as describing a smaller increase in spending as a cut.

Whilst I would not generally support Labour because of the mess they got this country into I support this campaign. It reminds me of the window tax. At all costs this Government has to be brought to its knees on this one. It is an outrage.

Just out of interest if all the people who this tax applied to asked to be rehoused would the councils be able to accommodate them in one bed roomed apartments or houses?

13. Housing Benefit Officer

The Prime Minister during PMQs said that those with disabled children are exempt from what they are now calling a room subsidy, this comment has been repeated by Ministers – unless legislation is introduced the statement from the Prime Minister is incorrect.

As a result of the Burnip case an additional room would be allowed for a disabled child, in rare circumstances where they are specifically deemed medically incapable of sharing a bedroom. That allows for one additional room, it does not exempt them from a 14% reduction in eligible rent if they would otherwise be counted as having 2 spare rooms.

The Government is however appealing the case to the Supreme Court. Until the Supreme Court decides on this case local authorities will NOT be unable to award benefit based on this. So Mr Cameron would only be correct if drop the case in the Supreme Court and they legislate to exempt disabled claimants.

The only exemption is if you or your partner were born on or before 6 October 1951 or if the claimant lives in a one bedroom flat or besdit.

Regarding the “it’s not a tax” argument I think Newsthump summed up how potent a stance that actually is here:-

15. Peter Gilkes

I think that homeowners with spare bedrooms should pay 11% extra Council Tax for each. That would make it fair.

The governement are also lying about student exemption. under housing benefit students studying away from home for less than 52 weeks per year are exempt. under Universal Credit this becomes ^ MONTHS- impossible to satisfy this and go to university/college as the duration is 9-10 months! They are lying abot the exemption and it will put pais to social mobility and choices made by poor families ie go to uni/family has to move choices

that is 6 months for student exemption cf current 52 weeks!

that is 6 months under Universal credit

19. Housing Benefit Officer

msoftley the six month temporary absence change is not really an issue, go see your parents over Christmas, a new period starts after that.

The big issue is Ministers claiming that there are exemptions when in fact there are none, except for pensioners and in rare cases an allowance of one room for regular overnight carers. The other allowance that Ministers are claiming is one that they are taking all the way to the Supreme Court.

The Leader of the opposition needs to up his game on this

thank you HB officer, its not clear that its not per annum

@15 Peter Gilkes

“I think that homeowners with spare bedrooms should pay 11% extra Council Tax for each. That would make it fair”

Total nonsesne. It would be fairer that those with spare bedrooms recieve a 11% council tax reduction for each. There rateable value will be higher yet they use less resources.

In fact it would be fairer still to introduce a poll tax.

What a joke, who voted these idi*ts in? What about students who go to Uni? Am I supposed to move out Mon-Fri then when my son comes back from uni on the weekend move back in to a place big enough for him to have his room?

What a total joke.

23. Peter Dome

Window tax, Gin tax, bedroom tax !. What next, Air tax?.Same old story, the rich get richer the poor get poorer. How are people who are already struggling find the extra money, Where are the one bedroom flats we are to move to?. Who ever conceived this is evil, I can’t see it working, you can’t squeeze blood out of a stone. This is nothing but persecution of the poor, by a dictatorship, not a democracy. The government are elected by the people, to work for the people and listen to public opinion aren’t they?. As long as they are ok, what do they care. People driven from their own homes. thrown into poverty, as prices and the cost of living increases, people having benefits reduced. Sheer madness, and the most wicked policy this country has ever produced. Why not round up all the poor and unemployed and lock us up in prison, we are treated like scum, but without proper jobs what are we to do?.So many good innocent people are going to suffer, homelessness will increase crime, and social unrest. I’m horrified.

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