Public opinion split over ‘bedroom tax’

Public attitudes towards the 'bedroom tax' are highly mixed, according to a government-commissioned survey. The survey finds support for the measure in principle, but also reveals varied responses depending on the framing of the questions.

Key findings

  • The main survey question asked people whether they supported reducing housing benefit for working-age social housing tenants 'if they have more bedrooms than the Government thinks they need'. 49 per cent of people said they agreed with this in principle, while 33 per cent were opposed.
  • A much higher proportion would support the policy if it reduced total spending on benefits (54 per cent for, 20 per cent against). Similar percentages were in favour if the policy encouraged those affected to take up employment (52 per cent for, 20 per cent against), and if it meant those affected had to move to find more affordable accommodation in the same area (49 per cent for, 24 per cent against).
  • However, more people opposed the policy than supported it if it meant those affected had less income to cover living costs (31 per cent for, 35 per cent against). Opposition grew further if the policy meant those affected had to move to find more affordable accommodation in a different area (31 per cent for, 40 per cent against).
  • The report concludes that, broadly speaking, the public see 'both fairness and unfairness' in the policy.

The survey was undertaken by Ipsos MORI for the DWP in August, before the conference season and Labour’s well publicised pledge to reverse the policy. The questions used for the survey referred to neither the 'bedroom tax' nor to the coalition government's own preferred description – the 'removal of the spare room subsidy'.

SourcePublic Perceptions of the Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy (RSRS), Department for Work and Pensions
LinksReport | DWP press release | Ipsos Mori press release | Inside Housing report

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Publication date: 
Nov 10 2013