Council Housing and the Bedroom Tax

It is very easy to misunderstand a nation if the setup is not the same as your own. I say this because Britain is a socialist-democratic country. What does this mean? It means that it is still a democratic society where people can vote but the economic system is a mixture of capitalist and socialist.

I was trying to think about how to portray how this works to my readers, but because many of you belong to the military, you will understand more than others will because of how the military works. For instance, base housing is given out based on need and family size which is kind of how the council housing works.

Council Housing in Britain really came into its own after World War II. England had to rebuild more than a million houses after the war as many were destroyed by the bombs dropped by Germany. 80% of the houses were council houses.

Margret Thatcher was the one that opened the door for tenants to be able to buy their council house with her right-to-buy scheme. This made council house less available and instead of building more homes with the money made, it was hoped that the housing development industry would take over and create more affordable housing. Unfortunately this did not happen in as large of a scale as it was expected and there is a busing shortage. This is why housing is so expensive.

As you can see from my other posts, it hasn't, instead it has driven house prices up. Although when housing developments are built they are mandated to build a portion of "affordable housing" in them.

At one point two in every five people lived in a council house and today it is one in ten. The people that bought their houses have sold up and moved away. So in many places, the people that have been left behind had low paying jobs, were on benefits and often suffered from drug and alcohol problems.

This is a good place for an overview of council housing history in Britain.

If you have taken onboard some of my tips of how to live like a local then you have been of course watching the news and listening to the radio. There has been a debate on how to rectify the shortage of council housing. Some people have lived in their homes for more than 20 years and now they have too much room for their requirements. So the government decided that in order to make home available, they would start charging people more if they lived in a home surplus to their needs. This has been coined "The Bedroom Tax".

The idea was the people get paid money for their housing benefit. This is given to the poorest people. They would not require such big homes and they would then be saving money. People would have the space that they need and the government would be saving money.

Sounds great on paper doesn't it? The problem is that it hasn't worked out the way it was intended. The problem is that the councils do not have homes to offer the people to move into so that they could free up homes for the other people. Therefore they started paying the people less and then those people are unable to make up the difference (£14 per week they lost) and not are behind in their rents.

I just thought I would briefly cover council housing as it is not something we have in the US.

All the Best!

American to Britain


  1. Hi Kim
    Just found your blog. I have a similar blog called :life in london-american style. Anyway, this was interesting and a good intro regarding council housing. While there were a few generalisations it was good. Please know that along with poor people council homes are for single mums, the elderly and the infirm. Please dont take it the wrong way-am not criticising. Also great explanation of the bedroom tax.I do like your blog and plan to read more posts. Cheers. SB

    1. I very much agree and thank you for pointing that out :)


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