Fighting the Bedroom Tax

We are helping to organise a public meeting to discuss the Bedroom Tax and other benefit changes in the Harlequin on Friday 22 March at 7.30pm (details in this flyer).

You have probably heard of the Bedroom Tax. It’s been in the news quite a bit recently.

The Government is targeting what it calls “under-occupation”.

If you live in social housing and are deemed to have too many bedrooms, your housing benefit will be reduced. If you’ve got one room too many, it will be cut by 14%; two or more loses you 25%.

This is likely to result in yet more benefit cuts for 660,000 families across the country.

Forced to pay more

In Reigate & Banstead, 400 families could be affected – forced to pay more rent from their already overstretched budgets.

The Government tells us there are alternatives to taking a benefit cut:

  • Downsize?  Easier said than done. There are nowhere near enough smaller properties available (the waiting list for a one-bedroom flat in Reigate & Banstead is over nine years). And even if there were suitable properties, splitting up communities is hardly the way to fix a Britain the Government tells us is ‘broken’.
  • Work a few more hours? The economy is in freefall thanks to the Government’s discredited austerity measures. The number of people looking for work, or more hours, is far, far higher than the official unemployment statistics. Anyone in a position to work a few more hours would already be doing so.
  • Take a lodger? Maybe not the most realistic suggestion if you are bringing up a young family.

Even families with disabled children needing their own room will be affected by this change. So will families with children who spend part of the year away at college.

Green victory

Until yesterday, foster carers and families with children in the armed forces were also caught in the net. But thanks in part to the massive public outcry, the Government has performed a partial U-turn and now exempted them from this housing benefit cut.

Green MP Caroline Lucas was instrumental in forcing the Government climb-down. She said, “The eleventh hour decision to exempt foster carers and families with children in the armed forces from the new bedroom tax is a huge win for social justice – and a clear sign that the Government is beginning to recognise just how flawed and unfair this policy is.”

Build more affordable homes

We are told that the Bedroom Tax is to help bring down the £21 billion housing benefit bill. But we’d save much more if we stopped using housing benefit to line the pockets of private landlords charging absurd rents.

Building affordable homes would create jobs, and, if we brought rents under control, could bring down the housing benefit bill.

Your Green Councillors are very concerned about how this will affect residents in Redhill.

We have met with Raven Housing, and lobbied them to investigate reclassifying two- and three-bedroom houses as smaller properties where the extra rooms are not being used as bedrooms. Lancaster City Council is doing this, following a proposal from a Green Councillor.

Cllr Essex has worked with Caroline Lucas to oppose the Bedroom Tax nationally, and with activists and unions locally.

How to find out more

If you are worried about the Bedroom Tax or other benefit changes, please get in touch.

You can also attend Drop-In advice sessions during Merstham Money Week.


If you would like to join us in campaigning against the Bedroom Tax and other benefits changes, contact us.

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