19_april_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,063

Sunday 19 April 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

As someone who lives in privately rented accommodation, I live in a two bedroom property for which my landlord charges me a single persons rate. This was an act of kindness on his part because I am a vulnerable disabled person. If you are capable of it, hold that thought.

The bedroom tax imposed on social housing residents was sold on the idea that it matched the situation in the private rental sector and was therefore fair and just. In fact that is a complete nonsense because private sector rents are higher across the board and private tenants on Housing Benefit therefore receive a great deal more financial support than social housing tenants.

Local authorities are shifting from “social” housing rents to “affordable” rents, this slight of hand means that social housing tenants are facing huge rises in rent as rents shift from 50% of market rate to 80% of market rate. Before anyone cries, ‘Well that’s fair, why should they pay less than me?’ Let’s bear in mind that social housing rent is based on a formula that combines local wages and local property values. Private sector rents are ‘free market’ rents or, in other words, what landlords can get away with. Fairness doesn’t come into it. Quite simply, social rents are indexed linked whilst private rents are not. If there is any unfairness it falls on the heads of private tenants who, instead of whining about people in social housing, might like to think about doing something pro-active and campaigning to bring their rents down to a fairer level, index linked, and in line with social housing rents. House buyers could do the same thing, campaigning for house prices index linked to pay and local housing costs.

Councils are facing losses of £20million a year due to the impact of the bedroom tax, empty properties have increased from 25,462 in 2012-13 to 26,958 in 2013-14 when the tax was introduced with overall rental income losses going up from £107million to £127million because people cannot afford the rent on properties with more bedrooms than they need.

I wonder why it has never occurred anyone to simply drop the rents, based on the number of tenants, to counter the asinine bedroom tax and get those houses into use and not slowly deteriorating at even greater expense? I know that helping people instead of penalising them is anathema to you Tories, but for any other party, local or national, it is a vote winner waiting to happen.

A fairer Britain for all? I’ll bet that’ll give you nightmares.