Skip to main content

Bedroom Tax

Volume 563: debated on Monday 3 June 2013

The Petition of residents of the UK,

Declares that the Petitioners believe that the spare room subsidy or 'bedroom tax' is an unjust and immoral tax on the most vulnerable in society.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to abolish this tax.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Nic Dakin, Official Report, 20 May 2013; Vol. 563, c. 1022.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions:

The Government believe that those on Housing Benefit in the social rented sector should face the same choices about where to live as those living in the private rented sector. That is why we have removed the spare room subsidy in the social rented sector by restricting the amount of Housing Benefit paid to working age social sector tenants who live in a property that is too large for their needs. This is not a tax on bedrooms, but rather a reduction in the level of state support for housing costs for those who under occupy.

The Housing Benefit bill must be brought under control. It has increased by around 50% in real terms over the last decade and in 2012-13 expenditure was estimated at around £24 billion. The Government cannot expect taxpayers to continue to underwrite people’s housing costs regardless of the size of their accommodation. People receiving Housing Benefit who wish to remain in accommodation that is larger than their household requires need to fund part of the cost themselves.

The Government believe that it is neither affordable nor fair that there are approaching 1 million extra rooms being paid for by working age Housing Benefit at a time when almost quarter of a million people are living in overcrowded accommodation and there are approaching 2 million on social housing waiting lists in England alone. Over time the removal of the spare room subsidy will encourage more effective use of social housing stock and a more strategic approach in both the allocation of property and, in the longer term, building programmes, ensuring more appropriately sized accommodation for demand. It is in the interests of both social landlords and tenants to ensure a better match between housing need and the size of accommodation provided.

The Government have already trebled funding for Discretionary Housing Payments and from 2013-14 has added a further £25 million specifically aimed at disabled people under-occupying significantly adapted accommodation in the social rented sector. We believe this to be a more flexible and cost-effective approach which will enable local authorities to provide additional support, such as allowing extra time for vulnerable people to find suitable alternative accommodation as well as providing longer term support for those living in significantly adapted accommodation.

The Government have no plans to change the removal of the spare room subsidy.