Councillor accuses government of ‘chasing headlines’ with the Bedroom Tax.

Labour Councillor John Cotton expressed his concern for the Bedroom Tax and the impact it will have on social housing tenants within Birmingham, claiming mistakes were made by central government in introducing a “flawed” policy. 

Councillor Cotton felt the government’s introduction of the Bedroom Tax was an ill thought out policy which only added to an already worsening housing situation within the city,

“This is exactly what happens when government policy chases headlines rather than dealing with the actual issue head on.”

With 10,000 council tenants estimated to be affected in Birmingham and a further 5, 000 tenants from registered social landlords, Councillor Cotton claims that the policy will have mass implications on societies most vulnerable.

“What I find deeply troubling is that the people affected are the working class and vulnerable, who are seemly being punished.”

Councillor Cotton highlighted that not providing a living wage is a key issue within the welfare system, suggesting that the low wage low skill economy needs to change as the castigation of the poor could lead to a, “widening gulf of inequality within the city”. 

With 16, 629 people currently on the housing waiting list in Birmingham and 37,000 households living in congested conditions, the West Midlands is accountable for almost half of families living in overcrowded accommodation across the country.

Councillor Cotton identifies the housing crisis to be due to an inadequate amount of funding from central government which is needed to act upon Birmingham’s housing issue,

“We know what the issue is, we know what the solution is, but we need the resources.”

With the city councils limited resources and a lack of funding to finance these new builds, it appears that the Bedroom Tax will only be adding to a worsening housing situation as Councillor Cotton states,

“you couldn’t have designed a more perfectly mad system for dealing with this, it really is iniquitous.”

Funding from the central government to provide the build of new homes is what is needed. According to Councillor Cotton who believes it will resolve the housing crisis, giving tenants under the social housing sector a chance to downsize whilst relieving the increasingly concerning housing waiting lists. It is this lack of funding which is becoming a concern for the Birmingham City Council as supporting tenants is becoming “hard.” 

In an attempt to support tenants and those estimated to be affected by the Bedroom Tax Councillor Cotton highlights the ways Birmingham City Council are attempting to handle the “consequences” of the policy.

By setting up a multi-agency community with advice agencies, councils and housing associations Councillor Cotton attempts to frame a response to the welfare reform, where mapping food banks advice and support for social housing tenants can be accessed.

“We are trying to put all things we can in place to support tenants.”

 Listen to our full conversation with Councillor John Cotton.


 

For Further support and advice Birmingham City Council are working with those affected in the ways they can avoid the taxation in their website. 

Sutton Coldfield to be the least affected area of Birmingham?

Less than 10% of Sutton Coldfield residents may be affected by the Bedroom Tax. This area is expected to see the least effects in Birmingham as of April 2013, when the new policy comes into action.

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Almost 6% of Sutton Coldfield residents live in a council owned house and only 3.5% are living in a Housing Association property. This is a massive 39 percentage points less than the most affected area of Birmingham, Ladywood.

Hall Green, Perry Barr and Yardley are other areas of Birmingham which indicate fairly low rates of Local Authority and Housing Association properties. The data released by Birmingham City Council, suggests that less than a quarter of each of these regions’ populations are likely to be affected by the Bedroom Tax.

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Approximately 1 in 5 of Hall Green’s residents may be potentially affected, with around 10% living in Local Authority Housing and the same amount depending on the HA. Perry Barr shows very similar data. Just over 9% of residents are council tenants and only a tenth live in a property provided by the HA. Yardley indicates slightly different rates, with just over 20% living in a council house and a further 4% occupying a HA property.

Click on the image to view the full map.

Click on the image to view the full map.

This map shows where these lowly affected areas are in Birmingham.

Ladywood to be the most affected area of Birmingham?

Almost half of Ladywood residents will potentially be affected by the Bedroom Tax. Around 49% are either council tenants or live in a Housing Association property.

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Statistics released by Birmingham City Council, show that over 31% of Ladywood residents live in Local Authority Housing, as well as almost 18% living in a property provided by the Housing Association. The tenants who are deemed to have a spare bedroom will see the effects of April 2013’s new policy.

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With only 29% of Ladywood council tenants having just one bedroom, a potential of 71% may be affected by the Bedroom Tax. If rooms are not filled to the requirements of the policy, residents will see their benefits cut significantly. Negative effects have already began to occur in the Ladywood area. One resident’s story can be seen here.

Erdington, Northfield and Hodge Hill are other areas of Birmingham which have fairly high Local Authority and Housing Association rates.

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Around a third of Erdington’s residents may be affected by the Bedroom Tax, as almost 21% are council tenants and a further 10.7% live in a HA property. Northfield shows slightly higher results. 33.5% of its population are likely to be affected, with nearly 28% in council housing and over 5% depending on the HA. Hodge Hill indicates similar statistics, with over 32% potentially being affected by Bedroom Tax. Over a quarter live in Local Authority Housing and nearly 7% live in a property provided by the HA.

Click on the image to view the full map.

Click on the image to view the full map.

This map shows where these highly affected areas are in Birmingham.