The 'Bedroom Tax' is not perfect, but the potential to improve future generations is worth the change

Council houses
Debate Rating: COLD


For the sake of this article I am going to assume that you have already heard of the 'Bedroom Tax' or 'Under-Occupancy Rule', as it is sometimes called, and therefore know a bit about it. If you have read any of Owen Jones, and other very left opinions, and believe every word they say, then this change is 'unjust', 'cruel', and another blistering attack on the poor.

No amount of words can be written to state just how ridiculous these claims are. The Government is addressing an issue which was ignored completely by the previous government, and while the change being implemented has struggled to get the message across, the opportunity to improve future generations by giving them affordable social housing and to end the issue of overcrowding in Britain is a something I am glad this Government is taking seriously.

The change in April has two very worthwhile aims. The first and most obvious is to bring down the housing benefits bill which continues to be at an unsustainable level. But also, and just as important, it is to help overcrowded families by providing them with social housing that is currently under-occupied. Nobody in their right mind will argue these two reasons are not sufficient enough to warrant change. Under Labour, Shelter has stated that overcrowded homes doubled while the use of bedsits and bed and breakfasts continued to rise also.

As a child impacted by Labour's poor handling of the country, I was, like many, a victim of their neglect which resulted in my family being separated and forced into bedsits while neighbours had under-crowded social housing that could easily fit a family in them. To me it is ridiculous that with social housing being urgently needed for young families, there are actually people arguing that taxpayers should fund properties for people that are bigger than they need. Why should a single occupant have a four bedroom house completely paid for when there are children growing up in bedsits?

Of course, it is a shame that some people have to downsize from homes that they previously raised a family, but they are not being made homeless, they are simply being asked to let someone have the same opportunity someone gave them. In fact, people being asked to move have a ridiculous amount of choice in where they choose to move, far from the contradictory argument Owen Jones and others claim. In Milton Keynes, where I am from, on the home swapper website (which is designed for social housing swaps) there were more than 200 possible housing options today for someone looking to downsize, ranging from new build flats to bungalows, which would be fully funded by the tax payer.

As Patrick O'Flynn correctly highlights, imagine asking a bank or building society to subsidise your mortgage so you could afford to buy a house with more bedrooms than you would ever need, you would be laughed out of the building. And so, why should individuals being able to argue their rights to housing be more important than others?

There is no easy solution to housing in Britain, but I cannot see how a young family receiving a home they can bring their children up in is such a 'cruel' thing. During my childhood I moved eight times due to the unavailability of social housing, something that has impacted my later life in ways I am still aware of, and so my heart goes out to children growing up in the constant uncertainty of homelessness. I fully support a measure that can provide housing for families while providing housing options for those downsizing. If someone disagrees with me please voice your opposition.

With Labour continuing to voice opposition to Government plans, it is typical that they offer no alternative solution to this issue, instead blaming Thatcher for implementing the right to buy or claiming this is an attack on the poor. They are ignoring the positive impact it has had on their core voters lives’ and ignoring that even if these council houses were never sold, the argument is still there that people are not willing to downsize from a council house that they feel is their home for life by right.

And so when reading about the 'Bedroom Tax' please take into account what I have told you. It may be an unpopular move, but it is nonetheless a necessary change to provide children with stability. This Government is once again showing it is not doing the easy thing, but it is doing the right thing.

Posted 12/02/13 by Ryan Gray Write a reply

Debate Centre
Something does need to be done to solve the problem of the huge welfare budget but unfortunately, because some measures are hard, every move meets stiff opposition. I support the "bedroom tax" however it would be foolish to suggest that it is perfect (what cut ever is?) and to see somebody who advertises herself as a Labour supporter agreeing in principle with the idea shows that it is not as "cruel" or "evil" as other Tory cuts are considered.
23/02/13 23:17 by Alex Watts (Agree)
I agree all children should have a suitably sized home. Key to that is building enough affordable housing to ensure it happens. Social housing is not a gift - people pay for it. Why should, say, an elderly woman who's brought kids up in a 3 bed house and paid more in rent over that time than it would have cost her to buy it with a mortgage, be forced out once she is on housing benefit?

If, say, this woman's kids have now had to move away from work, forcing her to move to a one-bed place may well mean the family can no longer come and stay, so she loses touch with family and grand kids. Same if the family is close by. If they rely on a grandparent for childcare, or the kids rely on a grandparent close by for other kind of care, a policy forcing her to move could end up splitting families, leaving people isolated and vulnerable.

Longer term that will cost a lot more. And why? For what? Build affordable housing and rent it. There is profit in that, not just cost.
23/02/13 13:14 by Cath Ferguson (Disagree)
“The proposal will affect an estimated 660,000 working-age social tenants – 31% of existing working-age housing benefit claimants in the social sector” Also, the average person affected will lose £14 per week.

Although I agree that children deserve the right to have a home big enough for them, I think the “Bedroom Tax” is far, far from perfect.
I completely agree with Mark. This is a proposal that needs much work and will not be welcomed by many.

May I just remind everyone that commenting on a writers appearance or photo has nothing to do with the debate or their politics and shouldn’t be commented on.
14/02/13 18:33 by Jess Hayden (Disagree)
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