‘Bedroom tax’ – study the alternative?

Many people living in social housing in the UK are worried about losing benefits as new arrangements are being introduced this week. Welfare reforms will see tenants’ housing benefits cut if they are deemed to have a spare bedroom in their council or housing association home.

Whatever subtle distinctions politicians are making between the notion of a ‘bedroom tax’ or ‘removal of the spare room subsidy’, the proposals will affect an estimated 660,000 working-age tenants in social housing – 31% of existing working-age housing benefit claimants in the social sector. The majority of these people have only one extra bedroom and there’s a reported shortage of single bedroomed accommodation for people to move into.

The Government doesn’t define what the term ‘bedroom’ means, leaving the decisions to landlords. The bedroom tax makes no distinction between a single or a double bedroom. A room either is a bedroom or is not a bedroom.

Here’s an idea to promote lifelong learning and to symbolise educational aspiration. Make sure that all social housing has a study if at all possible, re-designating any bedrooms deemed to be spare as a place for learning in the home. Now that would be a public gesture to support ambition and a culture of self-improvement.

The WEA’s vision is: “A better world – equal, democratic and just; through adult education the WEA challenges and inspires individuals, communities and society.”