Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Reforms “could reduce council waiting list by two years” say Tories

GOVERNMENT changes to the rules on housing benefit could reduce Thurrock’s council house waiting list for larger properties by around two years, according to local Conservatives.

The new system will mean that people currently living in larger council houses than they need will see a reduction in their housing benefit, which will encourage them to downsize and free up larger homes for the next generation. Thurrock Council has promised a downsizing assistance scheme, which means that the full cost of moving will also be covered for many people.

Speaking after the cabinet meeting this week, local Conservative leader Cllr Phil Anderson said “This is a good news story for the 5000 people currently stuck on Thurrock’s council house waiting list. We all know of families struggling to bring up young children in small flats, while single people or couples whose children have long since left home continue to occupy large council houses at the taxpayer’s expense. Council housing is a valuable benefit which is allocated strictly on need, and when those needs change it is right that people should downsize and give the next generation the same chance that they had.

“Since the scheme was announced by the government, 55 households in Thurrock have already downsized and another 122 are in the process. That’s nearly 200 larger homes for families to move into, and the changes haven’t even been implemented yet. There are around 1400 council properties in Thurrock which are ‘under occupied’ by people claiming housing benefit. If all of these were able to downsize that could reduce the waiting list for larger properties by up to two years.

“You would have thought that people would welcome this chance to unblock the system, but instead all Labour are doing is sitting around their cabinet table whinging about a so-called ‘bedroom tax’. Of course there will be a few unfortunate cases where people are negatively affected, and the council must do all it can to help in those cases. But we mustn’t let that obscure the fact that this is a massive lifeline for the thousands of parents and children stuck in cramped accommodation on the council waiting list.”

28 COMMENTS

  1. It’s just a thought but, at a time when the council is being expected to tighten its financial belt by central Government, does the council really have the money to pay the moving costs of everyone affected by the ‘bedroom tax’? Isn’t this just throwing even more money away?

  2. rocket1 – I do agree that it’s not a tax. I simply use the term ‘bedroom tax’ because that is what people started to refer to it as and the name stuck.

    It cannot be called a true tax because 1) it doesn’t affect everyone in the country and 2) people may have the option of moving to avoid it.

  3. it really made me chuckle when i read about the unemployed man in tilbury with a three bedroom house.

  4. Myles, by your definition the top income tax rate or stamp duty or inheritance tax aren’t “true” taxes.

  5. Descamisados – Everyone is covered by those rules but not everyone satisfies the requirements for paying the relevant taxes. ‘Bedroom tax’ does not apply to everyone and is, in fact, targeted at a minority so your argument doesn’t hold water.

  6. Everyone with a council house is covered by the rules but not everyone satisfies the requirement to pay the “tax”

    Everyone in work is covered by the income tax rules but not everyone satisfies the requirement to pay the “tax”.

    There’s no difference.

  7. Descamisados – Wrong. Not everyone with a council house is covered by the new rules, only those on Housing Benefit (who are the ones who are least able to afford any extra financial outlay). I’d also point out that the ‘bedroom tax’ does not apply to homeowners either therefore it is targeted at a small group and not the entire population. Perhaps you should go over to the blog page and read my blog.

    Income tax rules are applied as a blanket rule to the entire population but the amount paid varies due to personal income. Don’t forget – even children (such as actors and singers who haven’t reached the age of majority) have to pay income tax. So I say again, you’re argument doesn’t hold water.

    My blog on this issue is still a live debate as far as I’m concerned and, if people wish to contribute, everyone is welcome to post a comment, criticise, suggest a way forward or post their worries about the subject.

  8. My concern is if there 1400 under occupied properties are there REALLY 1400 smaller properties for these households to move into? If there aren’t does this mean developers will go back to applying for permission to build more flats in Thurrock using this as an argument.
    This problem should have been addressed by using the ability to give medium term leases to all new council tenants and let it work through the system, tenants would then know that at the end of their lease if their circumstances had changed they may have to accept smaller property. This REALLY would have been much fairer.

  9. Really – I stand to be corrected but I have a feeling that there probably aren’t enough smaller properties. And yes, developers are probably rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect.

    That is a very good suggestion.

  10. Disingenuous Myles. All taxes only apply to subsets of the population.

    Income tax – applies to all income over a certain threshold
    VAT – applies on all sales, except on exempt/zero rated items
    Capital Gains Tax – applies on some capital gains tax over a certain threshold
    Council tax – applies to all households, unless exempted by their local authority
    National Insurance – apples to all income over a certain threshold, with certain exemptions
    Proposed “Mansion Tax” – would apply to all properties over a certain value
    Stamp Duty – applies to all proprerty sales over a certain thresholds, subject to certain exemptions.

    Half the reason the 50p tax rate is such a hot potato is it’s a tax that only applies to certain groups.

    The real reason the “bedroom tax” is not a tax is more fundamental. A tax is when you take people’s money off them. The bedroom tax is to do with giving people less benefits. It’s a benefit cut, not a tax rise.

  11. Descamisados – All the taxes you mention apply are applied as a blanket rule to everyone exemptions and thresholds are part of the rules involved in applying the tax. Should anyone find themselves within the threshold for paying, they pay. For example, a poor person who wins the lottery who previously didn’t pay certain taxes but then through investing some of that money in stocks and shares gets to a certain threshold will start paying.

    The ‘bedroom tax’ is not applied to homeowners and certain other groups; it is being directly and exclusively to people on Housing Benefit.

    So, again, your argument has a huge hole in it making it unseaworthy.

    However, to take your last point – “A tax is when you take people’s money off them. The bedroom tax is to do with giving people less benefits. It’s a
    benefit cut, not a tax rise.” – like it or not, benefit income is the only money some people have to survive; this being the case, the ‘benefit cut’ based on the number of ‘spare’ bedrooms someone has is taking money away from that person. So, actually, you’ve just made the case for calling the Bedroom Tax a form of taxation and, as it’s targeted specifically and exclusively at people on Housing Benefit, you’ve also strengthened the case that it’s unfair and discriminatory.

    OK, everyone! It’s alright to call it a Bedroom Tax now, Descamisados says so. 😀

  12. Myles, no offence but you’re either trying to split a hair that’s one atom thick or you’ve completely missed the point. The “bedroom tax” is “blanket rule to everyone, exemptions and thresholds are part of the rules” and indeed in your second paragraph you go some way to defining said exemptions.

    If find your second argument somewhat bizarre. Benefits and taxes are seperate. Unless you’d like to tell me that there has been no “tax cut for millionaires” all that’s happened is an increas in benefits for the well off?

  13. Don’t these discussions almost always get bogged down with technicalities? Is it a tax? No. Has ‘Bedroom Tax’ come into common parlance? Yes. Can receiving benefits be equated with income? No. Do those receiving benefits regard it as income? Yes. Is it fair that tenants on benefits occupy properties with more bedrooms than they require? No. Should they be asked to downsize? Yes.
    The principal here is clear, there are people occupying places that have more bedrooms than they need and others with fewer. Asking the two to swap around is fair. There will be people for whom circumstances are complicated and they should be dealt with on an individual basis but the majority of cases will be clear as day.

    As ever, it’s the implementation that sucks. Really has the right idea, do it over time so that people know where they stand and that they have time to prepare for the move. As has also been said, you can’t ask single people to take a cut in benefits if there are no single bedroom places available to re-house them in. Like I said, good idea, sucky implementation.

  14. Barbara Brownlee (Director of Housing) recentely stated that TC hasn’t nearly anywhere enough one bedroom housing, so this wont be happening anytime soon.

  15. Descamisados – Wrong, I’m not splitting hairs or missing the point, you are. The Bedroom Tax (and thanks for allowing me to call it that now) is targeted at Housing Benefit claimants only. Homeowners are not noted as exemptions to a rule.

    You were the one who defined tax as taking money from people so I took your definition to its conclusion.

    The tax cut for the rich certainly benefits them!

  16. gray64 – The idea of looking at individual cases is a good one but the Bedroom Tax is being applied to the entire target group so individualisation might prove difficult. Also, there aren’t enough smaller properties to cope with the demand.

    There’s still the point that there are homeowners who rattle around in properties that are larger than they require whilst large families who are cramped into smaller properties that they may also own might not have the money to purchase a larger property. Does that mean the two families in that situation should swap too? Should the ‘family’ who are underoccupying be charged for their ‘spare’ rooms?

  17. The first thing I would do would be to swap people like the 50 year old unemployed man from Tilbury, which was spoken about on another YT thread, and give his three bedroom house to a family who lives in the same area but crammed into a 2 bed flat.

    I’m sure there must be similar types of swaps that can be made, keeping people within the same area, causing minimum disruption to people’s lives. Thurrock Council does need to stop giving away land and start building council houses again, but without making the mistakes of 60s and 70s estates.

  18. Valen (Jeffrey Sinclair ref?) Homeowners have purchased their own houses and can do what they please, as can anybody else who is using their own money. The issue here is money given out by the State as a benefit. If the money is not earned then it must come with strings attached. It is reasonable to try to ensure that people on benefits are situated in properties suitable to their needs. That means some folks moving out of houses where there is a spare room or two so that others with over occupancy can move in. The idea is a simple one. As always, there will be situations that are not quite so straightforward but the majority will be.

  19. How will the waiting lists be slashed by 2 years when there is a lack of smaller properties to downsize tenants into? The majority of people on the waiting list want 1 bedroom properties.

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