Bedroom tax will push Lambeth tenants to the brink, warns charity


The borough will be badly affected by the new policy.


 By David Horsfall

Lambeth social housing tenants will be badly affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ coming into effect next month, pushing some of the poorest households in the capital closer to the breadline.

Figures from the National Housing Federation released last month indicate that Lambeth and Southwark are the most affected boroughs in the capital, with over 5000 households being affected in each borough.

The controversial policy is against a background of rising homelessness, up 10% since 2011, according to homeless charity Crisis.

The aim of the coalition policy is to cut the housing benefit bill, by incentivising households to move to smaller accommodation and encouraging working age claimants to take on more work.

Duncan Shrubsole, Director of Policy at Crisis, said: “Within the next two weeks, a whole raft of further cuts including the bedroom tax and overall benefit cap will push tens of thousands of households closer to the brink and many into homelessness.”

The policy has created a barrage of protests because households who have too much living space will receive about a £14 reduction (14%) per week for one spare bedroom and about £25 (25%) reduction a week for two spare bedrooms.

Human rights group Liberty have announced that they are seeking a judicial review of the bedroom tax policy on the basis that it is a breach of the Human Rights Act.


The policy only applies to council and housing association tenants. Private sector tenants are not affected.

Research indicates that this represents a potentially significant hardship, with two thirds of households on less that £150 per week income likely to be affected.

Either households will have to move to a smaller home, make up the shortfall from work, apply for a discretionary grant or take in a lodger.

But with substantial waiting lists in Lambeth for social housing, it is clear that moving to smaller social housing units may not be feasible, and with strong demand from young professionals in the private rental sector rent, rents for one bedroom flats are running at £800-1500 per month.

Ted Knight, ex-leader of Lambeth Council, said: “There is a limited pool of small units in the borough for social housing. It is not a feasible proposition to move in the borough.”

Mr Knight estimated that 20,000 families are affected by the bedroom tax in Lambeth. In his view, the policy is designed to “remove the poor people from London.”

The number of housing benefit recipients has spiralled from about 4.2 million in 2009 to 5.2 million at the end of 2012, and the annual housing benefit bill is now costing the Treasury £21 billion in 2010/11 compared to £11 billion in 2000/2001.

Mr Shrubsole said: “Every homelessness statistic is a life devastated. We need the Government to listen and learn, reverse its cuts to housing benefit and lead a substantial effort to build more genuinely affordable homes to rent.”

Photo courtesy of by La Entropista, with thanks.

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