Hundreds of Brighton and Hove families swap homes to avoid bedroom tax

Bill Randall

Bill Randall

First published in News
Last updated
by , local government reporter

Hundreds of families have swapped their council homes with each other in the past year as they look to avoid the so-called “bedroom tax”.

Under government rules, introduced in April last year, families or individuals deemed to be living in council or social houses that are too big for their needs face having their housing benefits cut.

But families in Brighton and Hove have been taking advantage of the Mutual Exchange Scheme, which allows tenants in either council or housing association properties to advertise their homes and swap with other tenants looking to downsize or move into a bigger property.

Those looking to use the scheme can advertise their home as available and search for a more suitably sized home.

If they are able to find another user to swap with they then inform the council and the exchange is approved.

According to the council’s latest figures, 200 swaps have taken place in the last financial year.

One tenant who took advantage of the exchange scheme was Margaret Lindsay who found herself falling into arrears after her daughter moved out of the family home last year.

The 44-year-old said she wasn’t aware she had been paying the bedroom tax until her daughter moved out and she realised she would have to pay an extra £20 to meet the cost of having a spare room.

She said: “I’m quite nervous about paying tax and rent because I like to pay it and make sure it’s up to date. I asked, and they said I was paying the bedroom tax because I had a bigger house and I had to pay another £20.”

In April last year the mother-of-three moved into her new home with her two sons in September.

“I really feel like I’ve helped out someone else,” she added.

Councillor Bill Randall, chairman of the council’s housing committee, said the council scheme aimed to help people who found themselves falling into debt.

He said: “Brighton and Hove is already facing a rising tide of homelessness and a growing demand for affordable housing.

“Now hundreds of council households are dealing with the added dilemma of whether to pay more every week for a spare room, find a lodger, or move.”

Comments (16)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

6:40am Tue 18 Mar 14

Plantpot says...

Excellent news.
Excellent news. Plantpot
  • Score: 16

6:42am Tue 18 Mar 14

Sussex jim says...

It is good to see a government scheme to provide more suitable housing is working well.
It is good to see a government scheme to provide more suitable housing is working well. Sussex jim
  • Score: 30

7:13am Tue 18 Mar 14

Maxwell's Ghost says...

Why was the family featured in last weeks argus forced to move from a council property which had been declared unfit for human habitation Mr Randall?
Why is the council allowing homes to fall into such disrepair?
Why was the family featured in last weeks argus forced to move from a council property which had been declared unfit for human habitation Mr Randall? Why is the council allowing homes to fall into such disrepair? Maxwell's Ghost
  • Score: 17

7:33am Tue 18 Mar 14

Alison Smith says...

Show's the Conservative Policy is a success in Brighton & Hove. I hope Jason Kitcat has written to David Cameron to praise the Spare Bedroom Subsidy changes?
Show's the Conservative Policy is a success in Brighton & Hove. I hope Jason Kitcat has written to David Cameron to praise the Spare Bedroom Subsidy changes? Alison Smith
  • Score: 15

7:46am Tue 18 Mar 14

In the sticks says...

Alison Smith wrote:
Show's the Conservative Policy is a success in Brighton & Hove. I hope Jason Kitcat has written to David Cameron to praise the Spare Bedroom Subsidy changes?
The "Bedroom Tax" was first proposed by Labour in 2001, even though Ed Milliband would now vote to repeal it. And he actually voted for it in 2007 (Welfare Reform Act 2007)
[quote][p][bold]Alison Smith[/bold] wrote: Show's the Conservative Policy is a success in Brighton & Hove. I hope Jason Kitcat has written to David Cameron to praise the Spare Bedroom Subsidy changes?[/p][/quote]The "Bedroom Tax" was first proposed by Labour in 2001, even though Ed Milliband would now vote to repeal it. And he actually voted for it in 2007 (Welfare Reform Act 2007) In the sticks
  • Score: 11

8:02am Tue 18 Mar 14

Alison Smith says...

In the sticks wrote:
Alison Smith wrote:
Show's the Conservative Policy is a success in Brighton & Hove. I hope Jason Kitcat has written to David Cameron to praise the Spare Bedroom Subsidy changes?
The "Bedroom Tax" was first proposed by Labour in 2001, even though Ed Milliband would now vote to repeal it. And he actually voted for it in 2007 (Welfare Reform Act 2007)
Why didn't the Labour Party apply it in 2001 then? Thousands more homeless people could have been housed by now, if the success of it in Brighton & Hove is anything to go by.
[quote][p][bold]In the sticks[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Alison Smith[/bold] wrote: Show's the Conservative Policy is a success in Brighton & Hove. I hope Jason Kitcat has written to David Cameron to praise the Spare Bedroom Subsidy changes?[/p][/quote]The "Bedroom Tax" was first proposed by Labour in 2001, even though Ed Milliband would now vote to repeal it. And he actually voted for it in 2007 (Welfare Reform Act 2007)[/p][/quote]Why didn't the Labour Party apply it in 2001 then? Thousands more homeless people could have been housed by now, if the success of it in Brighton & Hove is anything to go by. Alison Smith
  • Score: 14

8:41am Tue 18 Mar 14

mark by the sea says...

So basically people who want another bedroom are swapping with someone who has a spare bedroom? Common sense prevails! Not only good for the families involved, but it reduces rent arrears for the tax payer,.... Can we have a comment from kit cat?
So basically people who want another bedroom are swapping with someone who has a spare bedroom? Common sense prevails! Not only good for the families involved, but it reduces rent arrears for the tax payer,.... Can we have a comment from kit cat? mark by the sea
  • Score: 18

9:51am Tue 18 Mar 14

whatevernext2013 says...

mark by the sea wrote:
So basically people who want another bedroom are swapping with someone who has a spare bedroom? Common sense prevails! Not only good for the families involved, but it reduces rent arrears for the tax payer,.... Can we have a comment from kit cat?
can you expand on clearing rent arrears ,as if a tenant has arrears they cant exchange and the council wont move them till there arrears are paid off
[quote][p][bold]mark by the sea[/bold] wrote: So basically people who want another bedroom are swapping with someone who has a spare bedroom? Common sense prevails! Not only good for the families involved, but it reduces rent arrears for the tax payer,.... Can we have a comment from kit cat?[/p][/quote]can you expand on clearing rent arrears ,as if a tenant has arrears they cant exchange and the council wont move them till there arrears are paid off whatevernext2013
  • Score: 5

10:43am Tue 18 Mar 14

Argus_reader says...

Only problem is people dont want to downsize from a house to a flat. Ive been looking for 2 years and still no luck
Only problem is people dont want to downsize from a house to a flat. Ive been looking for 2 years and still no luck Argus_reader
  • Score: 6

11:37am Tue 18 Mar 14

redwing says...

There's no evidence that these tenants swopped because of the bedroom tax. In fact only 20 more exchanges have happened than in the previous year! Tenants have always swopped when it is mutually advantageous. The bedroom tax is inhumane and a stick to beat people with by deliberately making them unable to afford their rent.
The vast underoccupation in the owner occupied housing sector is conveniently never reported. The rich nobs should open up their mansions to the homeless and poorly housed and stop hogging all the space. Politicians preaching the merits of the bedroom tax are occupying MULTIPlE homes with spare rooms. How about a tax on all their underoccupied accommodation which can then be spent on building more social housing?
There's no evidence that these tenants swopped because of the bedroom tax. In fact only 20 more exchanges have happened than in the previous year! Tenants have always swopped when it is mutually advantageous. The bedroom tax is inhumane and a stick to beat people with by deliberately making them unable to afford their rent. The vast underoccupation in the owner occupied housing sector is conveniently never reported. The rich nobs should open up their mansions to the homeless and poorly housed and stop hogging all the space. Politicians preaching the merits of the bedroom tax are occupying MULTIPlE homes with spare rooms. How about a tax on all their underoccupied accommodation which can then be spent on building more social housing? redwing
  • Score: -1

11:52am Tue 18 Mar 14

NickBtn says...

redwing wrote:
There's no evidence that these tenants swopped because of the bedroom tax. In fact only 20 more exchanges have happened than in the previous year! Tenants have always swopped when it is mutually advantageous. The bedroom tax is inhumane and a stick to beat people with by deliberately making them unable to afford their rent.
The vast underoccupation in the owner occupied housing sector is conveniently never reported. The rich nobs should open up their mansions to the homeless and poorly housed and stop hogging all the space. Politicians preaching the merits of the bedroom tax are occupying MULTIPlE homes with spare rooms. How about a tax on all their underoccupied accommodation which can then be spent on building more social housing?
There is quite a bit of evidence in the article above that this is helping families find suitable homes. Even if just 20 as you quote that is still a 10% improvement and 20 families helped. I suspect the number is much higher and more this year

But yes it would be ideal not to have the bedroom tax and to have more homes for all and more housing available. However we've had years of population growth that is way above house building levels. That is something that all political parties have some responsibility for. It's good that in Brighton we have some swapping going on for mutual benefit
[quote][p][bold]redwing[/bold] wrote: There's no evidence that these tenants swopped because of the bedroom tax. In fact only 20 more exchanges have happened than in the previous year! Tenants have always swopped when it is mutually advantageous. The bedroom tax is inhumane and a stick to beat people with by deliberately making them unable to afford their rent. The vast underoccupation in the owner occupied housing sector is conveniently never reported. The rich nobs should open up their mansions to the homeless and poorly housed and stop hogging all the space. Politicians preaching the merits of the bedroom tax are occupying MULTIPlE homes with spare rooms. How about a tax on all their underoccupied accommodation which can then be spent on building more social housing?[/p][/quote]There is quite a bit of evidence in the article above that this is helping families find suitable homes. Even if just 20 as you quote that is still a 10% improvement and 20 families helped. I suspect the number is much higher and more this year But yes it would be ideal not to have the bedroom tax and to have more homes for all and more housing available. However we've had years of population growth that is way above house building levels. That is something that all political parties have some responsibility for. It's good that in Brighton we have some swapping going on for mutual benefit NickBtn
  • Score: 6

1:08pm Tue 18 Mar 14

Stoney33 says...

redwing wrote:
There's no evidence that these tenants swopped because of the bedroom tax. In fact only 20 more exchanges have happened than in the previous year! Tenants have always swopped when it is mutually advantageous. The bedroom tax is inhumane and a stick to beat people with by deliberately making them unable to afford their rent.
The vast underoccupation in the owner occupied housing sector is conveniently never reported. The rich nobs should open up their mansions to the homeless and poorly housed and stop hogging all the space. Politicians preaching the merits of the bedroom tax are occupying MULTIPlE homes with spare rooms. How about a tax on all their underoccupied accommodation which can then be spent on building more social housing?
its not inhumane, don't be ridiculous, no ones being made homeless, council housing is not a right, its a benefit. If people are not making full use of their entitlement in the manner it should be, why should they continue to receive the benefit?

The private housing situation, although still a problem, is not a burden carried by the taxpayer. Unfortunately, when you purchase an asset, you have the benefits of dictating how it is used
[quote][p][bold]redwing[/bold] wrote: There's no evidence that these tenants swopped because of the bedroom tax. In fact only 20 more exchanges have happened than in the previous year! Tenants have always swopped when it is mutually advantageous. The bedroom tax is inhumane and a stick to beat people with by deliberately making them unable to afford their rent. The vast underoccupation in the owner occupied housing sector is conveniently never reported. The rich nobs should open up their mansions to the homeless and poorly housed and stop hogging all the space. Politicians preaching the merits of the bedroom tax are occupying MULTIPlE homes with spare rooms. How about a tax on all their underoccupied accommodation which can then be spent on building more social housing?[/p][/quote]its not inhumane, don't be ridiculous, no ones being made homeless, council housing is not a right, its a benefit. If people are not making full use of their entitlement in the manner it should be, why should they continue to receive the benefit? The private housing situation, although still a problem, is not a burden carried by the taxpayer. Unfortunately, when you purchase an asset, you have the benefits of dictating how it is used Stoney33
  • Score: 14

1:17pm Tue 18 Mar 14

DisillusionedBtowner says...

Stoney33 wrote:
redwing wrote: There's no evidence that these tenants swopped because of the bedroom tax. In fact only 20 more exchanges have happened than in the previous year! Tenants have always swopped when it is mutually advantageous. The bedroom tax is inhumane and a stick to beat people with by deliberately making them unable to afford their rent. The vast underoccupation in the owner occupied housing sector is conveniently never reported. The rich nobs should open up their mansions to the homeless and poorly housed and stop hogging all the space. Politicians preaching the merits of the bedroom tax are occupying MULTIPlE homes with spare rooms. How about a tax on all their underoccupied accommodation which can then be spent on building more social housing?
its not inhumane, don't be ridiculous, no ones being made homeless, council housing is not a right, its a benefit. If people are not making full use of their entitlement in the manner it should be, why should they continue to receive the benefit? The private housing situation, although still a problem, is not a burden carried by the taxpayer. Unfortunately, when you purchase an asset, you have the benefits of dictating how it is used
I'd vote for this twice if I could Stoney33!

As a private renter struggling to get on the property ladder I don't have much sympathy for people who live in better places than mine (mine's a shared house that's falling apart) for free or much cheaper. Like you say, it's a benefit not a right!
[quote][p][bold]Stoney33[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]redwing[/bold] wrote: There's no evidence that these tenants swopped because of the bedroom tax. In fact only 20 more exchanges have happened than in the previous year! Tenants have always swopped when it is mutually advantageous. The bedroom tax is inhumane and a stick to beat people with by deliberately making them unable to afford their rent. The vast underoccupation in the owner occupied housing sector is conveniently never reported. The rich nobs should open up their mansions to the homeless and poorly housed and stop hogging all the space. Politicians preaching the merits of the bedroom tax are occupying MULTIPlE homes with spare rooms. How about a tax on all their underoccupied accommodation which can then be spent on building more social housing?[/p][/quote]its not inhumane, don't be ridiculous, no ones being made homeless, council housing is not a right, its a benefit. If people are not making full use of their entitlement in the manner it should be, why should they continue to receive the benefit? The private housing situation, although still a problem, is not a burden carried by the taxpayer. Unfortunately, when you purchase an asset, you have the benefits of dictating how it is used[/p][/quote]I'd vote for this twice if I could Stoney33! As a private renter struggling to get on the property ladder I don't have much sympathy for people who live in better places than mine (mine's a shared house that's falling apart) for free or much cheaper. Like you say, it's a benefit not a right! DisillusionedBtowner
  • Score: 7

3:52pm Tue 18 Mar 14

Andy R says...

DisillusionedBtowner wrote:
Stoney33 wrote:
redwing wrote: There's no evidence that these tenants swopped because of the bedroom tax. In fact only 20 more exchanges have happened than in the previous year! Tenants have always swopped when it is mutually advantageous. The bedroom tax is inhumane and a stick to beat people with by deliberately making them unable to afford their rent. The vast underoccupation in the owner occupied housing sector is conveniently never reported. The rich nobs should open up their mansions to the homeless and poorly housed and stop hogging all the space. Politicians preaching the merits of the bedroom tax are occupying MULTIPlE homes with spare rooms. How about a tax on all their underoccupied accommodation which can then be spent on building more social housing?
its not inhumane, don't be ridiculous, no ones being made homeless, council housing is not a right, its a benefit. If people are not making full use of their entitlement in the manner it should be, why should they continue to receive the benefit? The private housing situation, although still a problem, is not a burden carried by the taxpayer. Unfortunately, when you purchase an asset, you have the benefits of dictating how it is used
I'd vote for this twice if I could Stoney33!

As a private renter struggling to get on the property ladder I don't have much sympathy for people who live in better places than mine (mine's a shared house that's falling apart) for free or much cheaper. Like you say, it's a benefit not a right!
Oh dear! They've really got you looking the wrong way haven't they?

A suitably amended version of that old joke comes to mind....

A banker, a private tenant and a social tenant are sitting in a room with a plate of 12 biscuits. The banker scoffs 11 of the biscuits, turns to the private tenant and says, "better watch that social tenant; he's after your biscuit."
[quote][p][bold]DisillusionedBtowner[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Stoney33[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]redwing[/bold] wrote: There's no evidence that these tenants swopped because of the bedroom tax. In fact only 20 more exchanges have happened than in the previous year! Tenants have always swopped when it is mutually advantageous. The bedroom tax is inhumane and a stick to beat people with by deliberately making them unable to afford their rent. The vast underoccupation in the owner occupied housing sector is conveniently never reported. The rich nobs should open up their mansions to the homeless and poorly housed and stop hogging all the space. Politicians preaching the merits of the bedroom tax are occupying MULTIPlE homes with spare rooms. How about a tax on all their underoccupied accommodation which can then be spent on building more social housing?[/p][/quote]its not inhumane, don't be ridiculous, no ones being made homeless, council housing is not a right, its a benefit. If people are not making full use of their entitlement in the manner it should be, why should they continue to receive the benefit? The private housing situation, although still a problem, is not a burden carried by the taxpayer. Unfortunately, when you purchase an asset, you have the benefits of dictating how it is used[/p][/quote]I'd vote for this twice if I could Stoney33! As a private renter struggling to get on the property ladder I don't have much sympathy for people who live in better places than mine (mine's a shared house that's falling apart) for free or much cheaper. Like you say, it's a benefit not a right![/p][/quote]Oh dear! They've really got you looking the wrong way haven't they? A suitably amended version of that old joke comes to mind.... A banker, a private tenant and a social tenant are sitting in a room with a plate of 12 biscuits. The banker scoffs 11 of the biscuits, turns to the private tenant and says, "better watch that social tenant; he's after your biscuit." Andy R
  • Score: 3

1:44pm Wed 19 Mar 14

thevoiceoftruth says...

The bedroom tax is pushing thousands of people into rent arrears. Many cannot find a place to swap to and face losing their homes. To make matters worse, the government is proposing scrapping housing benefit for the under 25s. This will lead to a huge increase in youth homelessness. Yet youth unemployment is at an all time high. This government is a disgrace and I sincerely hope they are voted out at the next election.
The bedroom tax is pushing thousands of people into rent arrears. Many cannot find a place to swap to and face losing their homes. To make matters worse, the government is proposing scrapping housing benefit for the under 25s. This will lead to a huge increase in youth homelessness. Yet youth unemployment is at an all time high. This government is a disgrace and I sincerely hope they are voted out at the next election. thevoiceoftruth
  • Score: -1

5:53pm Wed 19 Mar 14

tug509 says...

Redwing and those in support are the only people with their eyes open to this farce .Social housing IS a right that was provided to give affordable accommodation to the lower end of the class system ,that we are always being told doesn`t exist ,I myself have had to move because of this disgraceful tax .
I lived with my wife and two children for 27 years in the same house ,worked myself to the point ,of several operations and bad health ,but now my children have grown up and moved out ,I am expected to leave the place that is full of every decent memory the four of us had built .
We have a shortage of housing for a number of reasons ,properties allowed to sit empty ,properties that need a refurbishment programme ,those who own more than one property ,the greed of private landlords and many other equally annoying reasons ,but this seems to be the easiest route to a quick fix .
I don't condone one person living in a 3 bedroom house ,but to technically evict families from the house they may have grown up in ,is bullying ,no excuses are excepted either ,and that includes the need for a second bedroom due to illness ,no matter how severe ,if you find that acceptable ,then you need to check your morals .
The simple fact ,that no one wants to face ,because its not PC ,is that when you have such an enormous influx of immigrants ,you have to house them somewhere ,and the indigenous population in this country ,will always be asked to make the sacrifices ,for those who make the rules ,it has been proven beyond any doubt ,that this Bedroom Tax has cost hundreds if not several thousands of deaths across the country ,due to suicides and ill health , I think you will find ,that the original plan for "Downsizing" was based on a voluntary basis with cash assistance with removal costs ,not a GET OUT OF YOUR OWN HOME NOW !.
Redwing and those in support are the only people with their eyes open to this farce .Social housing IS a right that was provided to give affordable accommodation to the lower end of the class system ,that we are always being told doesn`t exist ,I myself have had to move because of this disgraceful tax . I lived with my wife and two children for 27 years in the same house ,worked myself to the point ,of several operations and bad health ,but now my children have grown up and moved out ,I am expected to leave the place that is full of every decent memory the four of us had built . We have a shortage of housing for a number of reasons ,properties allowed to sit empty ,properties that need a refurbishment programme ,those who own more than one property ,the greed of private landlords and many other equally annoying reasons ,but this seems to be the easiest route to a quick fix . I don't condone one person living in a 3 bedroom house ,but to technically evict families from the house they may have grown up in ,is bullying ,no excuses are excepted either ,and that includes the need for a second bedroom due to illness ,no matter how severe ,if you find that acceptable ,then you need to check your morals . The simple fact ,that no one wants to face ,because its not PC ,is that when you have such an enormous influx of immigrants ,you have to house them somewhere ,and the indigenous population in this country ,will always be asked to make the sacrifices ,for those who make the rules ,it has been proven beyond any doubt ,that this Bedroom Tax has cost hundreds if not several thousands of deaths across the country ,due to suicides and ill health , I think you will find ,that the original plan for "Downsizing" was based on a voluntary basis with cash assistance with removal costs ,not a GET OUT OF YOUR OWN HOME NOW !. tug509
  • Score: 3

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree