LibDems to change spare room subsidy/bedroom tax rules

In line with representations made by many in York, the government is being asked to change the rules on housing benefit.Empty bedroom

The proposed change would mean that tenants in existing social housing – who are under-occupying – would only lose entitlement to benefit if they had been offered smaller accommodation and turned it down.

In many areas a lack of 1 bedroomed properties is preventing people for downsizing (around 1000 single people are registered on the housing waiting/transfer list in York)

The party’s statement reads


639 York Council tenants affected by removal of spare room subsidy

639, of York’s 7803 Council tenants, were affected last year when the “spare room subsidy” was removed.

New figures reveal  that 267 of them now have new rent arrears.

None have been issued with eviction notices.

To deal with hardship cases, the Council has a budget of £300,000 for the current financial year.

Only £207,272 (72.4%) had been allocated by the end of January.

The Council had previously said that it had 1347 people on its housing list waiting for one bedroomed accommodation.  Many of these are currently occupying larger properties which would be released for families if under-occupation could be eliminated.

Despite there being numerous one bedroomed properties available on the open market in York, the Council has so far declined to use its £13 million housing surplus to purchase some of them.

A one bedroomed flat on Green Lane in Acomb has a guide price of £80,000

The policy is likely to be challenged at a Council  meeting taking place at the end of the month.

Council house rent arrears in York

Council house rent arrears in York click for source document

Council house rent arrears in York click for source document

The increasingly ubiquitous Cllr Burton has taken to the York Press today to tell us that rent arrears have increased since the abolition of the spare room subsidy (bedroom tax).

Sadly for him that simply isn’t true.


The actual figures can be found on the Councils web site (click graphic).

They show that, with the improvement on the economy, fewer tenants are now in arrears than was the case 3 years ago.

In total 1017 tenants were affected by the removal of the spare room subsidy.

The government awarded the York Council £88,730.96 to offset any hardship that may have been caused by the change to benefit arrangements.

The total amount of discretionary housing payment spent on ‘removal of the spare room subsidy’ cases this financial year is £42,344.74.

154 tenants received payments.

NB. The Labour Council recently arbitrarily removed 2400 people from the housing waiting list.


Council house rent arrears

The York Council has published details of the rent arrears owed by its Council house tenants during this year.

• Jan-13 £631,225 (households in arrears 2785)

• Feb-13 £709,637 (3196)

• Mar-13 £491,835 (2142)

• Apr-13 £637,442 (2877)

• May-13 £697,883 (2958)

• Jun-13£741,570 (3090)

• Jul-13 £779,029 (3149)

Although arrears have increased since Labour took control of the Council there is little evidence to suggest that the spare room subsidy (sometimes referred to as the bedroom tax) has had a major effect on levels of rent arrears.