Some of those who have faced a reduction in Housing Benefit due to the cut in the Spare Room Subsidy have swapped with others in social housing. The claim that there was nobody in overcrowded conditions willing to swap was a ludicrous contention – this assertion was made frequently but that didn’t give it any greater validity. Those using HomeSwapper or House Exchange can find plenty to choose from throughout the country.
But most of those faced with the need to find an extra £15 to pay the rent have preferred to work instead. This might mean some extra hours for those in part time jobs who still qualify for Housing Benefit. But for others it has provided a spur to get a full time job and to get off benefits altogether.
The latest figures show the spare room subsidy reduction now applies to 456,959 claimants. When it was introduced in 2013 there were 660,000 claimants who had their benefits cut as a result.
The average weekly Housing Benefit award for those in local authority properties is £82. That gives an indication that the savings to the taxpayer from this policy are much greater than is sometimes claimed. That is because it is influencing behaviour. This is the welfare reform that the Left have been most rowdy in opposing – misleadingly describing it as the “Bedroom Tax”. Of course some of those affected by it would have found jobs anyway, given the context of the economy recovering and other welfare reforms. But the policy is nudging behaviour in the right direction.