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Liz on the Bedroom Tax and Local Housing Allowance - Labour will Scrap the Bedroom Tax

I recently replied to a Southport resident who asked me about my view on the Bedroom Tax. I thought it would be useful to share here:

The “Bedroom Tax” and The Local Housing Allowance do appear to be similar policies on first sight as they do seek to limit the amount of Housing Benefit which is paid towards a property.  However, there are significant differences, which is why Labour is not seeking to repeal The Local Housing Allowance.

The first major difference between the two policies is that the “Bedroom Tax” has been implemented in a way which impacts on current tenancy agreements and effectively fines people for having a spare room, yet there are no smaller properties for them to move to.  The Local Housing Allowance, was brought in for those who were entering into new rental contracts in private accomodation

Those who are living in council properties or properties belonging to Housing Associations go through a vigorous assessment process which only allows them to bid on houses according to their need, whereas those affected under the Local Housing Allowance are able to choose their properties.  This in effect meant that people, who rent privately, were able to rent properties which were not in alignment with their needs.  The Local Housing Allowance prevented unscrupulous landlords from charging way above the market rate as they knew that the taxpayer was eventually picking up the bill.

People who live in Housing Association Properties and Council Housing have their rental re-invested in social housing as these are not for profit organisations.  Private Landlords make a profit which is taken out of the public purse.

The “Bedroom Tax” has unfairly impacted on those with disabilities.  There are many couples who are unable to sleep in the same room as one of them may need a hospital bed and other equipment.  Under the rules, their disability is not taken into account and in many cases they are having to find extra money which they don’t have or face eviction.  In these circumstances the “Bedroom Tax” has become a fine for being disabled.  There is also currently a lack of smaller accommodation for people to move to.

I personally believe that the “Bedroom Tax” is cruel legislation as it has forced people into debt, where they have been trapped as they are unable to move into a smaller property.  This is why if become your MP I will be voting to ensure that the “Bedroom Tax” is repealed. 

The Labour Party also has policy to help those who are in rental accommodation which you can read about here: http://press.labour.org.uk/post/84352297129/ed-miliband-launches-election-campaign-with-rents

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commented 2015-02-24 15:50:35 +0000
Great to see you know your stuff on the bedroom tax!

It may also be worth pointing out that it is entirely possible for a single person or couple to rent a 2 or 3-bed property and have the full amount of rent covered by their LHA. There are plenty of people who have done that around the country, although they may have to find a place in so-called ‘hard-to-let’ areas. The amount of LHA is also variable according to Local Authority and based on a percentage of average rent. The Tories reduced the allowance by, I think, 40%.

Another valuable point to make in discussing this with bedroom tax ‘supporters’, is that the amount deducted from housing benefit is variable: a percentage of rent, while benefit levels are the same across the country.

For instance, rent on a two-bed property may be £100 a week. A single person, getting £72 a week JSA will have £14 deducted from their HB, leaving £58 to live on. If they live in a high-rent area like London, and the rent is £150, they will have £21 deducted from their £72, leaving £51 to live on.
If they have a 3-bed property when perhaps their children have left home, it is far worse for the tenant.

I think that point is perhaps the most effective when answering sceptics.

Most people, including MPs, often incorrectly cite tenants as paying £14 a week. It is a 14% reduction on one ‘spare-room’ and 25% for two rooms.

Explaining the above to some people has changed minds and they’ve said they will not vote tory again. If they keep their word remains to be seen! Good luck in May.
Cheers

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