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Bedroom Tax vote - The Facts.

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In Parliament today (05 Sep), MPs took a vote on whether they should vote to amend the rules around ‘Bedroom Tax’.

We know what you might be thinking, ‘a vote to have a vote?’ Yes, as odd as it might sound, it was a vote to see if they could have another vote.

The spare room subsidy, commonly known as ‘Bedroom Tax’, was introduced in April 2013 and could reduce housing benefit by up to 25% if you’re seen as over-occupying your home by two bedrooms or more.

Today’s vote isn’t suggesting that ‘Bedroom Tax’ should be abolished, but scaled down. If the bill is passed, it will change two key things: 

  • If you're not offered suitable accommodation which meets your needs (I.e. if you live in a 4 bedroom home and you’re not offered a suitable 3 bedroom home), you will be exempt from Bedroom Tax.
  • You will be exempt from Bedroom Tax if you’re disabled and your home has been adapted to suit your needs.

So, why has there been a vote to have a vote?

Well it’s all down to how parliament proposes a new law or amends an old one. In total, there are 11 stages to a law. At first a law gets a ‘First reading’, literally meaning that it is read out in the House of Commons (where MPs meet to debate). This is followed by the ‘Second Reading’, which is what happened today. This second reading allows members of parliament to debate on the bill on whether they think it is right or not.

Once a vote is passed it goes to a ‘Committee stage’ where it is researched and amendments are put forward. Then there’s the ‘Report Stage’ where MP’s can suggest more amendments and finally it goes to a ‘Third Reading’. The bill is debated and a vote is cast.

If you thought it was over then, think again. The bill then goes through the same five stages in the House of Lords. If it passes these stages, any further amendments have to be agreed by both Houses. After all these stages it is put forward for Royal Ascent, an approval from the Queen. If approved, the bill can be passed with immediate effect.

To find out more about how the process works, click here.

As you can see, there is potentially a long way to go before if or whether this bill passes through.

If you, your friends or family are affected by Bedroom Tax, we have a host of advice and information on our website. You can get all the facts on the current changes and how you can prepare if you’re affected. This can be from how to find a smaller home to managing your money.

Find out more about the changes to benefits here.