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National Housing Federation Spare Room Housing Benefit Survey

ComRes interviewed 2018 GB adults online between the 11th and 12th of September 2013. Data were weighted to be representative of all GB adults aged 18+.

Date Published: 19 Sep 2013

Categories: Economy | Politics | Public and communities | UK



New research has revealed the groundswell of public opinion is growing against the ‘Bedroom Tax’ with almost three in five people (59%) saying that the Government should abandon the policy entirely.

A ComRes poll1 of more than 2,000 adults, conducted on behalf of the National Housing Federation this month, shows public opinion is shifting further against the policy as new evidence reveals the ‘Bedroom Tax’ is pushing many vulnerable and disabled people into debt. The polling reveals that the ‘Bedroom Tax’ has the potential to alienate a significant proportion of the electorate:

·   Four fifths (79%) of people who intend to vote Labour in the next election believe the Government should abandon the ‘Bedroom Tax’, while five in six (83%) Labour voters say the policy shows the Government is out of touch.

·       Two thirds (65%) of Liberal Democrat voters and more than a third (34%) of people who intend to vote Conservative in the next election say that David Cameron should abandon the ‘Bedroom Tax’ entirely and think of other ways to save money.

·       Opposition to the ‘Bedroom Tax’ has grown over the last few months, with 59% of the general public now agreeing the ‘Bedroom Tax’ should be abandoned – up from 51% of the public in April.

The polling results come just days after new data by the Federation suggested that half of families hit by the ‘Bedroom Tax’ were pushed into debt in the first three months of the policy. The survey of 51 housing associations around England, carried out by the National Housing Federation, found that 51% of households affected by the ‘Bedroom Tax’ (32,432 households) were pushed into rent arrears in the first three months of the controversial policy.2

National Housing Federation Chief Executive David Orr said:

“This public opinion poll should act as a wake-up call to both the Government and the Opposition. The general public see that the ‘Bedroom Tax’ is a disastrous policy which is causing hardship for people up and down the country. Families are spiralling into debt and facing terrible decisions of whether to pay the ‘Bedroom Tax’ or cut back on essentials such as food and heating. It’s hitting the most vulnerable in our society the hardest – two-thirds of those facing the cut are disabled. And on top of that the majority have no option of moving because there is a chronic shortage of smaller homes for them to move in to.

“Potential Labour voters in particular believe the ‘Bedroom Tax’ shows the Government is out of touch with the lives of real people. We need a commitment to repeal the ‘Bedroom Tax’ before yet more damage is done and tens of thousands more people spiral into debt as a result of this ill-conceived policy risk the roofs over their heads.”

Meanwhile, nearly nine out of ten (87%) members of the public agree that people who need a spare room for sick or disabled family members should be exempt from the ‘Bedroom Tax’. According to the Government’s own estimates, 420,000 disabled people across the country are being hit by the ‘Bedroom Tax’.

More than two thirds (68%) of the general public say no-one should lose Housing Benefit unless they refuse to move into suitable smaller accommodation. Research by the National Housing Federation indicates that there is a huge shortage of smaller homes for people affected by the ‘Bedroom Tax’ to downsize into. In March, the Federation estimated that although 180,000 households were under-occupying two bedroom social homes, only 85,000 one-bed social homes became available in 2011-12.2


For more information please contact communications officer Anne Arnold on 0161 873 9445, 07909 998 784 or [email protected].


1. ComRes interviewed 2,018 British adults online between 11th and 12th September 2013. Data were weighted to be nationally representative of British adults by gender, region and age. Data tables are available on the ComRes website, 

2. The National Housing Federation surveyed 51 housing associations who between them had a total of 63,758 tenant households affected by the ‘Bedroom Tax’. Of these, 32,432 have gone into arrears or further into arrears between 1 April and 30 June.

The National Housing Federation’s ‘Yes to Homes’ campaign will help local people lobby local decision makers for more affordable homes in their area. More information at

The National Housing Federation is the voice of affordable housing in England. We believe that everyone should have the home they need at a price they can afford. That’s why we represent the work of housing associations and campaign for better housing.

Our members provide two and a half million homes for more than five million people. And each year they invest in a diverse range of neighbourhood projects that help create strong, vibrant communities.

For more information, please visit:


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