The Social Tenant, the Law and the UK’s Politics of Austerity

Oñati Socio-Legal Series. 2015;5(1):73-89


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Oñati Socio-Legal Series

ISSN: 2079-5971 (Online)

Publisher: Oñati International Institute for the Sociology of Law

Society/Institution: Oñati International Institute for the Sociology of Law

LCC Subject Category: Law: Law in general. Comparative and uniform law. Jurisprudence: Private international law. Conflict of laws: Social legislation

Country of publisher: Spain

Language of fulltext: Portuguese, Spanish; Castilian, English, French, Basque

Full-text formats available: PDF



Helen P Carr (University of Kent)
Dave Cowan (University of Bristol)


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 16 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

<p>This paper considers current cuts to social housing provision in the UK made in the name of austerity. It focuses particularly on the &lsquo;bedroom tax&rsquo; &mdash;the cut to housing benefit for working-age social housing tenants whose property is deemed to provide more bedrooms than they need. It begins by explaining the long-standing political project of social housing in the UK. This background is important to explain the emergence of a discursively ghettoized population within social housing. We then turn to the &lsquo;bedroom tax&rsquo; itself. We consider the two quite separate rationales underpinning its introduction. One rationale &mdash;fairness&mdash; is the focus of the politicians; the other &mdash;under-occupation&mdash; provides the focus for policy analysts. Both offer different versions of truth about the social in social housing and both are unconvincing. For us, this is significant because the politics of austerity require the support of public opinion. We then consider some strategies of resistance to the &lsquo;bedroom tax&rsquo; which harness the disruptive potential of fairness before concluding that the bedroom tax requires relatively little unpacking to reveal it as an ideological device which operates to increase inequality whilst deploying a rhetoric of fairness.</p> <hr /><p>Este art&iacute;culo analiza los recortes en las prestaciones de viviendas sociales que se realizan actualmente en el Reino Unido en nombre de la austeridad. Se centra particularmente en el 'impuesto dormitorio' -el recorte en el subsidio de vivienda para inquilinos en edad de trabajar, cuya vivienda se considera que tiene m&aacute;s dormitorios de los que necesitan. Comienza explicando el proyecto pol&iacute;tico de viviendas sociales, de larga tradici&oacute;n en el Reino Unido. Estos antecedentes son importantes para explicar el surgimiento de guetos en las viviendas sociales. A continuaci&oacute;n se centra en el "impuesto dormitorio&rdquo; en s&iacute; mismo. Se analizan los dos diferentes motivos que sustentan su promulgaci&oacute;n. Una es la raz&oacute;n esgrimida por los pol&iacute;ticos -legitimidad-, la otra &ndash;baja ocupaci&oacute;n-, la esgrimen los analistas pol&iacute;ticos. Ambos ofrecen diferentes versiones de la verdad acerca de lo social en materia de vivienda social y ambos son poco convincentes. En nuestra opini&oacute;n, esto es relevante porque las pol&iacute;ticas de austeridad requieren del apoyo de la opini&oacute;n p&uacute;blica. Despu&eacute;s consideramos algunas estrategias de resistencia al "impuesto dormitorio" que aprovechan el potencial disruptivo de equidad, antes de concluir que es relativamente sencillo revelarlo como un instrumento ideol&oacute;gico que opera para aumentar la desigualdad, a la vez que utiliza una ret&oacute;rica de equidad.</p> <p><strong>DOWNLOAD THIS PAPER FROM SSRN</strong>: <a href="" target="_blank"> </a></p>