The bedroom tax that comes into force today slaps an extra £14 a week on social tenants with a room that is deemed to be “spare”.

This tax is iniquitous. It will undermine families, communities and friendships. It will not solve the fundamental problem of a shortage of affordable housing. It will force tenants to divert money from food and heating, and risk their health in doing so.

What daft person in Westminster failed to realise that families need stability and that this will be undermined by shuffling them around according to an arbitrary view of need for bedrooms?

What should the government have done?

It should end the Right to Buy which reduces stock housing stock. It should allow more homes to be built by permitting councils to increase borrowing against future rental income. This would boost local employment, as well as creating wider opportunities for social tenants to downsize, upsize and move between areas. A flexible social housing will strengthen society, not undermine it.

In the last few years, we have abandoned a social housing policy that provides homes in favour of one that regards housing merely as numbers, not family homes. We have adopted policies that undermine families and friendships, and weaken communities.

All of the political parties say they are committed to family life and building communities. So why are they introducing policies that undermine their own principles and philosophies?

The political village of Westminster has become so remote from the real world that few of our senior politicians have a clue about how their policies affect ordinary people. Or about how much it costs to live. That applies to civil servants in Whitehall too.

A longer version of this article will be found on my blog at

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