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The One Bedroom House.

Updated: Jun 16, 2023

A one bedroom house
A one bedroom house

In the Thames Road Estate, Spalding is a two bedroom house that was bought by South Holland District Council. They have then spent a considerable amount of money not only getting up to a very good standard, but also converting it to a one bedroom house. This has been done to meet their need to supply single bedroom housing. But why one bedroom?

The reason is that the largest group of people requiring homes want only one bedroom because if they had a second unused room it will reduce their housing benefit (I understand this to be 14% for one empty room and 25% for two empty rooms). This can result in unaffordable shortfalls for tenants.

Now let us step back from this a moment and think this through. SHDC has, quite reasonably to fulfil their housing obligations, bought a relatively cheap house. They have then improved it to a rentable standard. However, the conversion from two bedroom to one bedroom is both madness and short-sighted, albeit done with the best intentions. This madness is caused by the empty room penalty on housing benefit, a policy outside of local government control. However when you look at the public purse as a whole rather than demarking the issue it is my humble opinion that the 14% saved on paying housing benefit to those with unused room is outweighed by the cost of converting a house from two to one bedrooms. This is an issue that is even worse when you consider how flexibility of house usage is lost by reducing the number of bedrooms. I would have a little more sympathy with this wasted money if the local authority had used some imagination in its design by having the ability to convert to two bedrooms with a simple prefabricated room divider as used in many commercially rented offices. But alas, such innovation is out of their scope. One bedroom houses are a race to the bottom in social housing, that belongs to a different era.

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