Bedroom-tax will hammer single/grand/foster parents, disabled, forces, bereaved


Chances are you’ve heard of the ‘bedroom tax’, or the ‘under-occupancy’ sanction to give it its government name. But you might not have heard of the various ways in which this policy, which comes into force in April, will impact upon people – ways which make it a glaring example of this government’s programme of ‘planned misery’ aimed at punishing people for the ‘crime’ of needing support.

The Premise

The government’s logic on which the bedroom tax is based are as follows:

  • There is a shortage of social, council and low-cost housing
  • People are ‘blocking’ housing by staying in properties which are bigger than they need
  • People need to be ‘encouraged’ to go through the pain and inconvenience of a move to a smaller property
  • This will ‘liberate’ the larger houses

Of course, it might seem a much better solution – especially when the economy is in desperate need of a boost – to solve the problem by building houses rather than twisting the arms of ordinary people through an ill-advised, even insane programme of financial penalties.

But that would require sensible things like redistribution through well-enforced taxation – not to mention planning, competency and a genuine concern for the economic wellbeing of the majority – so it’s not really an option the government wants to look at.

So, true to form, the government is forcing through its plan, with either no thought of the consequences for ordinary people, or else with scant regard for them.

And it is doing so in full knowledge of two facts that, to any non-sociopathic person, would scream ‘don’t do it!:

  1. The government knows and admits that there are not nearly enough smaller houses for people to move into even if they wanted to – so the ‘incentive to move‘ is actually just a ‘punishment for daring to exist‘.
  2. The policy – according to the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) own assessment! – will disproportionately penalise disabled people, who are already struggling under the weight of unfair Atos assessments and the change from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) that will push hundreds of thousands into poverty. According to the DWP’s own figures, more than two-thirds of households affected will include tenants with long-term disabilities.

But the government is not deterred by such ‘minor inconveniences’.

How it will ‘work’

The policy will apply to every housing benefit claimant. Those who are assessed as having one bedroom ‘too many’ will lose 14% of their benefit. Those considered to have 2 or more will lose 25%. This is expected to mean an average loss of £14 a week for affected housing benefit claimants, but more – £16 a week – for social housing tenants.

Among the assessment criteria that you might not be aware of are these:

  • children under 16 of the same gender are expected to share a bedroom
  • children under 10 are expected to share regardless of gender
  • no allowance is made for couples using separate rooms because of medical issues, for example the space required for breathing equipment

What will the consequences be?

Because of the way families and properties will be assessed, there will be a wide range of clearly-unfair impacts:

  • Because of the room-sharing requirement for children, families with a number of young children are likely to be regarded as having ‘excess’ rooms, even though commonsense says that they ‘fill’ the property
  • Children will be deprived of the stability of a familiar home, and of the ‘luxury’ of privacy – low-income families will have to stay in cramped accommodation until their children grow enough, and then wait for a property to become available
  • Families with suitable accommodation will face financial pressure to move as soon as the first child leaves home, with massive impact on friendships, social integration and education for younger siblings
  • Because of the likely unavailability of suitable smaller/larger housing locally, people will be forced to move out of their home areas, estranging them from the support of family, friends and communities
  • As the tweet pictured below from MP Tom Blenkinsop shows, foster-children will not count as part of the household for assessment purposes. Foster-parents will suffer financially if they keep rooms available for foster-children; vulnerable children will suffer because of the lower availability of foster-parents with available rooms and of the downward pressure the penalties will exert on foster-parent numbers


  • Parents with children away on service with the armed forces will be penalised for keeping  a room available for their child(ren), or forced to move to smaller properties with no rooms for their returning heroes
  • People with disabled or chronically-ill spouses needing special equipment, or whose condition makes it difficult to sleep in the same room with them, will be penalised if they keep their own room.I know personally of one couple where the husband, whose wife suffers from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder), currently sleeps in their spare room because of her breathing equipment and in order to get enough sleep to care for her. When he queried how they were going to manage with reduced benefit, he was told:

You’ll have to move somewhere smaller and sleep on the sofa.

  • Grandparents below retirement age (pensioners are currently exempt from this policy) will be unable to keep a spare room for their grandchildren to visit, or will have to suffer the financial penalty.
  • Divorced parents will be unable to keep rooms for their children to use when they visit. Even parents with shared custody will be affected, as the new rules state that one of the parents must be designated as the ‘main carer’, and the other parent will be subject to the penalty.for any ‘excess’ rooms.
    Imagine being a young child whose parents are divorced. On top of the emotional trauma, you will now be faced with not even having a bedroom to sleep in when you visit your estranged father/mother.
  • If your husband/wife/partner/child dies, you will have only one year’s ‘grace period’ before being penalised if you don’t move. The pain of bereavement will be compounded by the loss of the home that houses all your shared memories. Worse still, when Universal Credit is rolled out this will be shortened to only 3 months.
    Could there be a clearer example of the flint-hearted, inhumane people currently masquerading as our government?
  • Lose your job and face an instant penalty – under current benefit rules, tenants who could previously afford their rent without claiming housing benefit, and whose circumstances change through job loss etc, will have a 13-week ‘protection period; to get  a new job, recover from ill health and so on. But under Universal Credit, the penalties will start from the moment you have to claim the benefit.

These are just the impacts that I’ve been able to uncover myself so far. As people comment on this post, and as I continue my own reading on the subject, I’m sure that more will come to light.

But even what can be seen so far is enough to demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt that the heartlessness, callousness, venality and viciousness of this government make even  Mrs Thatcher look like Mother Teresa.

God help us – and may He bring the power of these terrorists to a rapid end.

(If you want to read more on the subject, check the articles linked above or read this excellent article by Steve Clarke-Keating)


  1. Good article. I think the bedroom tax falls into the realm of “Exquisite Cruelty”, imposing unnecessary mental distress and physical discomfort on human beings, not for the reasons given but to bully, subdue and control the individuals concerned. We all have the right to a private sphere, and invading that sphere, undermining the protection of personal rights of tenants in receipt of benefits by a government should be grounds for prosecution for abuse of power. I don’t believe the number of cases where e.g. a couple on benefits is living in a 3/4 bedroom house/flat warrant such draconian and humiliating upheaval for so many. Flint-hearted indeed, and that goes for the lot of them including their supporters! Which decent members of society could support such a government?

  2. Take a look at “Green Benches” and “Prides Purge”blogs, they are also leading on this despicable act by an uncaring coalition. Poll Tax riots anyone?

  3. When Universal Credit comes along, this will apply to pensioners too. When this becomes common knowledge, expect a shitstorm of unparalelled proportions to start appearing around Cameron’s head as he’s promised faithfully (again with the promises, I notice) that this won’t affect pensioners. Has IDS explained this to him, I wonder?

  4. I ‘m finding that people affected don’t believe this and you can’t get them to take it seriously. It will impact terribly on carers and people who need carers to stay over sometimes. I hope someone penalises the PM for the huge spaces he occupies!

    1. Thats because there has hardly been any details of the changes and how much the changes will cost. I’ve only just had letter from the council informing me that I will now need to pay a percentage of my CT as the funding has been cut. The only information on the changes to HB have been buried in the HA monthly letter… no facts or amounts.
      This has been so rushed its only just starting to register with claimants.

  5. Lets hope that the electorate consists of more people who think EVERYONE deserves a ‘fair share’ than those that dont. This should mean that heartless Tories who seem epitomised by Rick Fuckkers with ‘get out of my way’ syndrome are NEVER elected again! Serves em right!

  6. I do not even vaguely recognize this country as the one I grew up in and for which i have worked for over 20 years. Where did the ‘Big Society’ idea go to? We now live in a culture of fear, uncertainty and complete lack of concern and respect for the most vulnerable. A spirit of control is rife, but that is of no surprise. I do pray for our leaders, that they will be able to see the destruction they are causing on peoples’ lives. Once seen, if they decide to continue regardless, the next election will decisively determine their futures.

  7. I am awake at silly oclock most nights/mornings, because of stress & musing over just the above & many other issues that this “Phony, unellected goverenment” has forced me & the other hundreds of thousands of hard working Lower Income earners to have to deal with now.
    I Like Phil Hall, dont recognise this country, I dont recognise the culture of “them & Us” which i thought we had stamped out… I cant believe we are not standing up against the blatant social cleansing & NIMBY-ism that is forcing the poor end (including those like myself who work) into a harsher poverty & desperation…. And all this is by a government NOT ONE OF US voted for….
    From a proud working single parent who has embedded this ethic into her children, From a self-sufficient, bill paying, never in debt working woman…. In just 18 months or so I have been squeezed by stealth laws, taxes, charges, increases, and closures of services I rely upon, to almost breaking point…. I honestly dont know if I will be here for the next election… BUT what i do know is, the UK needs to do something about what is happening… Do it fast.

  8. if this ‘debate’ is being framed by the tories as:- the taxpayer should not pay for the ‘luxury’ of paying for a spare bedroom…..then will mortgage interest for MP’s be limited to or reduced for any properties larger than the family size???? will MP’s 2nd homes be limited to 1 bedroom???? and when will the royal family be downsizing????? IT IS NOT ONLY THE POOR WHO HAVE THEIR HOUSING SUBSIDISED. wake up everyone who will be affected and protest. why can’t article 8 of the human rights act be invoked???? the right to family life???? surely family life includes the right to house your children???

  9. Steve,

    An area you’ve not covered is that of availability. Even if you accept the premise that people with “spare” bedrooms should move to smaller domiciles (and I don’t for a minute) then there is the question of where are all these dwellings? Much housing stock was built many years ago, and very little social housing is now built, particularly in line with current demographics.

    To explain: years ago, councils and builders concentrated on building suitable stock for their tenants when far fewer single occupancies occurred. In recent years, that’s changed dramatically – as demonstrated in private builds – but the old stock is still there and serving, and the private stock is simply not affordable by those on low incomes.

    So, cometh the day, tenants are told – pay the bedroom tax, you feckless slacker, or find somewhere smaller. You see the problem? There’s insufficient supply, and probably always will be. People already impoverished are thus cheerfully screwed by a government that couldn’t give a monkey’s about them, since, even if where they’re desperate to move to smaller dwellings, there’s little available, and certainly not at affordable prices (and guess what private landlords will do when faced with increased demand? Drop the price? I think not).

    On top of cuts to council tax benefit and the refusal to raise benefits in line with inflation, I can’t think of a more effective way of turning people to crime and encouraging rioting.

    1. Hi Red,

      I agree absolutely – but I did touch on it in my post:

      “Because of the likely unavailability of suitable smaller/larger housing locally, people will be forced to move out of their home areas, estranging them from the support of family, friends and communities”

    2. And this: “The government knows and admits that there are not nearly enough smaller houses for people to move into even if they wanted to – so the ‘incentive to move‘ is actually just a ‘punishment for daring to exist‘.”

  10. The bedroom tax applies to WORKING AGE tenants only. Councils have a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP), which can top up your rent – but has to be applied for. The government estimate that if 40,000 tenants were to apply to their councils for DHP it could cost councils about £1m in admin cost alone – regardless of the outcome (see PDF link below).

    So far from saving money the government may well end up spending more money if enough social housing tenants across the UK apply for the DHP.

    Although priority will be given to help disabled tenants stay in properties where significant adaptions have been made, and foster carers, there is nothing to stop any tenant applying for a DHP.


  11. Of all the uncaring and horrific policies this unelected bunch have brought in this has to be the most divisive and cruel. I am lucky in that I was able to buy my own home when I was able to work but my heart bleeds for everyone affected by this on top of everything else. People just don’t seem to know it is about to happen , no matter what I say many think I’m just scare mongering. The BBC/ITV and the Tory press have been complicit in keeping this quiet. The whole lot of them should hang their heads in shame.

  12. I personally know an 84 year old woman who recieved a letter before christmas explaining she will lose 25% of her housing benefit. This is because she lives with someone below pension age -her daughter, who suffers from mental illness. She says the only way they’ll get her out of her home is in a box. Its hearbreaking.

    1. That’s awful. How is she affected by the bedroom tax – does she have ‘extra’ rooms on top of those for her and her daughter?

      1. She lives in the house her children grew up in, a four bed in greater manchester.

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