The idea of the ‘bedroom tax’ whereby housing benefit is docked by 14% a week for one “spare” room, and 25% for two or more – was to somehow push people out of “under-occupied” social housing, let in people from more cramped homes and thus pull off some miraculous national readjustment.
There are it seems a number of problems. One is that there are simply not enough smaller dwellings for people to move into.
If people move into the private sector commentators suggest the cost in housing benefits would actually be far higher!
It also appears that according to the DWP many people do not wish to move and why should they?
There are some really good reasons why people do not want to move – they like the house they live in; they like the physical location of the house; they have good networks with family and friends. Lets face it, the dwelling that people live in is not just a roof over their head(s) but a place to love and cherish.
Some will say what about those households lacking a good home? Good point.
But lets not put the blame on other households, but place it where it firmly belongs – the transfer of housing into the leisure sector and the lack of publicly provided affordable housing.
Lets not also forget the double standards here. The affluent can own as many dwellings as they wish, many in private sector it could be argued are ‘under-occupying’ their property. Many of these do so for perfectly valid reasons.
There is also a moral factor – how many MPs live in spacious accommodation? How many have second homes? Odd how people in this situation can happily blame others.
And lets ask a fundamental question – what is housing for?
- It’s not an investment
- It’s more than a roof over your head
- It’s a place to call a home, your home where you can develop and enjoy your lifestyle.
If we are serious about a more sustainable lifestyle we need to create a society where people travel and consume less where there is a greater sense of community cohesion. In this scenario the home becomes more central to people’s lives, the focus of activity, the environment at the centre of the households world.
So let’s get real about housing, lets provide good housing for everyone, lets not blame the poor and lets deal with the real issues underlying poor housing provision.
- The increasing disparities in income and wealth
- The obsession with population growth
- The lack of publicly funded housing
For more on the impact of the bedroom tax see: