SFHA calls for immediate repeal of the ‘bedroom tax’ at Liberal Democrats' UK Autumn conference
Published by SFHA for Scottish Federation Of Housing Associations in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities, Universal Credit
The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) will today (Monday 16th September) state its argument for the repeal of the ‘bedroom tax’ to delegates at the Liberal Democrats’ UK Autumn Conference in Glasgow. (1)
The SFHA believes that the ‘bedroom tax’ is a deeply flawed policy which is causing widespread disruption across the social housing sector in Scotland. The Federation will tell delegates that rather than saving money, it is likely to cost more to implement and will explain that tenants can not readily downsize as a supply of smaller properties does not exist.
Mary Taylor, Chief Executive of the SFHA said:
“The policy ignores the structural mismatch between the profile of housing stock and households. The plain fact is that tenants can’t readily downsize because there simply isn’t the supply of smaller, alternative properties for them to move into.
“The ‘bedroom tax’ aims to reduce Housing Benefit spend, but it will actually result in higher spending as tenants are forced to migrate from cheaper, larger social rented properties to smaller but more expensive private rented sector properties.
“It is driving up rent arrears in the social housing sector, which is reducing the revenues available to maintain existing social housing stock. It is also increasing rent collection costs, which have to be paid from rental income. It is actually undermining the long-term viability of social housing providers across the UK.
“The SFHA is also concerned that the ‘bedroom tax’ could threaten the viability of rural communities. If tenants can not afford to pay the shortfall in Housing Benefit arising from the ‘bedroom tax’, they may be forced to move hundreds of miles away from their communities.”
Ms Taylor continued:
“Discretionary Housing Payments, which aim to help households struggling with housing costs, will provide support to some tenants for a short time, but they are not a long-term solution.
“Housing supply is not a tap – it cannot be turned on and off at will without having consequences in future years. Building one-bedroom units in the long run may be a big mistake – a reasonable supply is needed, but they should not be the main focus of development if we are to create balanced communities. Housing investment has to be geared to meet both existing and future housing needs and this relies on a steady income stream.
“The ‘bedroom tax’ is having disastrous consequences on the lives of tenants and the businesses of social landlords and that is why we are calling for it to be repealed immediately.”
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1. The SFHA is holding a fringe event on Monday 16th September, What’s Wrong with the ‘Bedroom Tax’? at the Liberal Democrats’ Autumn UK Conference. The SFHA’s event will take place from 1-2pm at the Crowne Plaza, Barra Conference Room, Glasgow.
2. The SFHA was established in 1976 and has around 119 members providing affordable housing and wider community services in Scotland, as well as a further 200 commercial members. The SFHA is owned by its membership and exists to support the work of housing associations and co-operatives in Scotland by providing services, advice and good practice guidance.
3. The SFHA is the voice of the principal builders and managers of new affordable housing for rent in Scotland. Housing Associations own and manage around 40% of the country’s affordable rented housing stock, over a quarter of a million homes across Scotland.
4. Housing associations and co-operatives are not-for-profit bodies regulated by the Scottish Housing Regulator.