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This week we will be running a series of articles on the impact of the Government’s cut, this April, in the spare room subsidy.

An extensive piece of research that I have undertaken shows the change has already had a significant impact in reducing welfare dependency. Faced with the prospect of having to contribute towards their rent out of their own money tens of thousands have been prompted to get a job and come off benefits altogether.

I put in Freedom of Information Requests to all the councils that adminster Housing Benefit to ask how many of those affected by a cut in spare room subsidy had come off Housing Benefit altogether. 141 councils provided the figures. 25,238 had come off benefits of the 233,732 affected. That is nearly 11 per cent. It the same applies in the rest of the country it means 71,000 of the 660,000 affected nationally have already come off benefits altogether. The evidence is clear: The cut in the spare room subsidy is already proving to make a crucial difference in rewarding work.

Remember these figures are just for those who have come off Housing Benefits completely. There will be many more who have taken a few hours part time work to earn the extra money needed to stay put. As benefits “taper off” that will meant still receiving some benefits but a reduced amount.

There are some caveats. Not every council responded. We only have figures from a third of them. However they include a pretty broad mix – small districts as well as big cities, Scottish and Welsh councils as well as English ones, affluent places as well as poorer areas.

Another point is that some people would have come off benefits even without this under occupancy penalty having been brought in. There has been a general fall in unemployment since April so some of these people whould have found work anyway. However were especially entrenched on welfare and so previously found work particularly unrewarding.

It should also be noted that councils have their own ways of gathering and measuring data. While getting a job is the usual reason for coming off benefits – there are sometimes others  – emigrating, or moving back home with parents, or having been caught out having made a fraudulent claim, etc. On the other hand some councils will have underestimated as they will only have included council housing tenants rather than housing association tenants. Or they will have only included those who gave specified they had found work as their reason for ceasing to claim Housing Benefit.

These figures throw Labour’s costings into doubt regarding their proposal to bring back the spare room subsidy. It suggests that the savings have been far more than estimated. Well over a billion instead of around half a billion.

The Government modestly estimated that it would save about £540 million a year. That assumes that 660,000 households stay where they are, don’t change their behaviour, but simply find the extra £15 a week in rent (on average) by cutting their spending on other things. If, for example, someone got an extra four hours work a week at £10 an hour they would have enogh to cover the extra rent. Housing Benefit is cut by 65p for each extra £1 earned.

So this reform is not only about cutting spending but also about encouraging work.

How many affected by the spare room subsidy cut have come off Housing Benefit altogether?

Aberdeen 195 out of 1,888

Aberdeenshire 196 out of 1,179

Adur and Worthing 39 out of 211

Barnet. 228 cases out of 2,000.

Barnsley 462 out of 3,710.

Basildon 154 out of 1,120

Basingstoke and Dean 32 out of 1,538

Bedford 84 out of 1,116

Bexley 27 out of 1,421

Birmingham 1,021 out of 13,557

Bolsover 73 out of 679

Bolton 262 out of 2,384

Bradford 248 out of 4,983

Braintree 84 out of 833

Brighton and Hove 113 out of 886

Bromley 159 out of 1,900

Bromsgrove 178 out of 605

Broxbourne 22 out of 371

Caerphilly 355 out of 2,741

Cambridge 17 out of 693

Camden 126 out of 1,964

Cardiff 338 out of 1,822

Carlisle 242 out of 1,276

Carmathenhire 19 out of 1,580

Central Bedfordshire 275 out of 982

Charnwood 37 out of 536

Chelmsford 6 out of 719

Cheltenham 148 out of 769

Cheshire East 314 out of 2,295

Chichester 8 out of 233

Clackmannshire 44 out of 716

Conwy 38 out of 658

Corby 33 out of 818

Coventry 207 out of 3,186

Crawley 99 out of 971

Dacorum 117 out of 901

Dartford 35 out of 323

Daventry 67 out of 585

Denbighshire 135 out of 811

Dudley 584 put of 3,400

Dundee 229 out of 2,118

Ealing 133 out of 2,204

East Devon 24 out of 523

East Lothian 7 out of 972

East Riding 227 out of 1,528

Eden 33 out of 336.

Elmbridge 108 out of 471

Epping Forest 55 out of 568

Erewash 130 out of 593

Falkirk 613 out of 2,970

Fareham 29 out of 250

Fife 548 out of 6,174

Gateshead 341 out of 2,838

Hammersmith and Fulham 350 out of 2,925

Haringey 186 out of 2,503

Hart 28 out of 229

Hartlepool 146 out of 1,668

High Peak 37 out of 320.

Highland 280  out of 2,200

Hillingdon 210 out of 1,300

Hinckley and Bosworth 214 out of 712.

Hounslow 123 out of 1,400

Huntingdonshire 130 out of 882

Kensington and Chelsea 172 out of 1,100

Kirklees 372 out of 2,342

Knowsley 457 out of 2,847

Lancaster 103 out of 834

Leeds 527 out 7,307

Leicester 648 out of 3,944

Lewisham 241 out of 3,077

Litchfield 81 out of 532

Liverpool 300 out of 11,600

Luton 83 out of 1,138

Maidstone and the Weald 66 out of 840

Mansfield 79 from 1102

Merthyr Tydfil 84 out of 1,224

Middlesbrough 378 out of 3,032

Midlothian 237 out of 1,311

Moray 249 out of 665

Newcastle-under-Lyme 258 out of 995

Newham 201 out of 1,266

Newport 206 out of 2,470

North Ayrshire 244  out of 1,765

North East Lincolnshire 169 out of 1,300

North Kesteven 92 out of 637

North West Leicestershire 92 out of 543

Nottingham 800 out of 5,815

Oadby and Wigston 4 out of 147

Oldham 309 out of 2,334

Orkney 26 out of 100

Perth and Kinross 58 out of 476

Peterborough 116 out of 1,658

Poole 80 out of 635

Portsmouth 134 out of 1,298

Powys 288 out 1,229

Plymouth 300 out of 2077

Redbridge 69 out of 748

Renfrewshire 215 out of 1,800

Rhondda Cynon Taff 299 out of 3280

Ribble Valley 23 out of 136

Rochdale 515 out of 2,477

Rotherham 523 out of 8,000

Runnymede 5 out of 126

Rushmoor 129 out of 534.

Sefton 275 out of 3,666

Sedgemoor 119 out of 945

Sheffield 677 out of 7,386

Shepway 58 out of 331

Shetland 50 out of 170

Slough 75 out of 431

Solihull 54 cases out of 1,515

South Ayrshire 375 out of 1713

South Cambridgeshire 56 out of  360

South Derbyshire 0 out of 318

South Kesteven 19 out of 880

South Lanarkshire 465 out of 3944

South Norfolk 119 out of 548

South Staffordshire 4 out of 80

South Tyneside 472 out of 2,961

St Albans 31 out of  217

St Helens 564 out of 3,572

Staffordshire Moorlands 73 out of 408

Stirling 160 out of 822.

Stockport 132 out of 1,500

Sunderland 21 out of 4,988

Swale 64 out of 967

Swansea 130 out of 2,813

Taunton Deane 61 out of 700

Test Valley 69 out of 803

Tewkesbury 72 out of 508

Thanet 52 out of 658

Torbay 55 out of 575

Torfean 109 out of  1,639

Tower Hamlets 948 out of 3,000

Tunbridge Wells 45 out of 404

Uttlesford 28 out of 198

Wakefield 109 out of 5,600

Waltham Forest 152 out of 1,817

Wandsworth 165 out of 2,005

Wealden 17 out of 181

Welwyn Hatfield 148 out of 1068

West Berkshire 103 out of 743

West Devon 95 out of 211

West Lancashire 114 out of 1052

West Lindsey 113 out of 680

West Lothian 270 out of 3,289

West Norfolk 142 out of 1240

West Suffolk 85 out of 399

Westminster 90 out of 440

Wiltshire 4 out of 63

Winchester 78 out of 300

Wolverhampton 371 out of 3,857

Wycombe 91 out of 693

TOTAL: 25,238 out of 233,732

54 comments for: Cutting the spare room subsidy is getting thousands into work

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