Social housing spare rooms a luxury - welfare minister

Housing estate, Stockwell Families in social housing could be moved to smaller properties under government proposals

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Spare bedrooms for people in social housing are a luxury the country can no longer afford, a minister has said.

Tenants with spare rooms will lose £11 a week in housing benefit under changes going through Parliament.

Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud told BBC Radio 4's You and Yours the cuts were needed as the housing benefit bill was "out of control".

But the policy depends on moving families into smaller homes and critics say there are not enough available.

'Very unfair'

Asked by You and Yours presenter Julian Worricker, if a spare bedroom should be regarded as a "luxury" for those in social housing, Lord Freud said: "Exactly - we have got a housing benefit expenditure that is simply out of control.

"It's very unfair for taxpayers to have to fund people to live in property that's larger than they can afford themselves.

"And also that means that people don't make the same choices, and are faced with those choices, that they would if they were non benefit recipients."

According to the Welfare Reform Bill, those currently living in social housing with one spare room can expect to lose £11 a week while those with two or more extra rooms may lose around £20 a week.

The proposals aim to address the shortage of social housing by matching families to the right size of accommodation but critics argue that there simply aren't enough smaller properties available.

Figures from the National Housing Federation suggest that around 180,000 social tenants in England are "under-occupying" two-bedroom homes, but just 68,000 one-bedroom social homes became available for letting in a single year.

The legislation will affect England, Scotland and Wales and is expected to come into force in April 2013.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 259.

    I would have thought that people who were handed it for free would be grateful for whatever home they were given, rather than moaning they don't get given a free soare room.

  • rate this

    Comment number 258.

    A few rich people, many of them aristocrats, own 69 per cent of the land in Britain. As a result, house prices are so high, millions can’t afford to buy a home. They also receive £millions in taxpayer subsidy.

    I would like a BBC/other reporter to put it to Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud that does he believe subsidising the RICHEST people in ANY manner, is morally justified, or affordable

  • rate this

    Comment number 257.

    Now what do you define as a Spare room? apart from it being space.If you were to measure the amount of Square metres poor people live in 2 or more rooms you will find that amounts to very little space indeed!
    The only rooms that I know of that have huge space is the Victorian House's in London.
    No Tennants should not lose £11 a week but get £11 for living in such a small space!

  • rate this

    Comment number 256.

    Many people are in larger houses than required because of changes as families grow. Many because it was the only property available.

    I own my own house and have 1 fewer bedroom than I really need but I am not going to start castigating others because I am not them. I don't know their situation.

    I would rather live in a more tolerant and less judgemental society than have another bedroom.

  • rate this

    Comment number 255.

    I am a home owner who unfortunately doesn't have room for my wife's granny and mum to come down for Xmas. Judging by many comments here, I'm entitled to an extra room for relatives visiting etc as some sort of human right. When can I expect the council round to build my extension?


Comments 5 of 259


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