More of the public support than oppose the reduction of housing benefit for under-occupying social housing tenants, according to an Ipsos MORI poll conducted for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) published today. Conducted in August, before the conference season and Labour’s pledge to abolish the ‘tax’ (also known as the Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy and the ‘Size criteria’), the survey was dedicated to measuring opinion on the policy by description, not name. Key findings include:
- only 2% of the public say they have never heard of the policy;
- a plurality (not a majority) support the policy both in principle and after a more detailed briefing of what it involves;
- there are as many strong opponents as strong supporters – 16% of the public in both cases;
- the policy divides opinion with, for example, net opposition among social renters (-25) and in Scotland (-10), net support among owner-occupiers (+29) and in East England (+38);
- there is a swing towards support in response to some potential impacts such as reducing overall Government spending on benefits;
- there is a swing against because of others such as those affected having to move to a different area;
- the public see elements of fairness in the policy (including parity with private sector benefit recipients) but also see it as potentially unfair (for example, for claimants living in areas where housing costs are high);
- there is a strong sense that reducing under-occupation and overcrowding in the social rented sector is important;
- but 41% think that reducing housing benefit in this way will lead to more efficient use of social housing ‘not at all’ or ‘not very much’.
Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 2,021 adults aged between 16 and 75 across Great Britain online. Fieldwork was conducted between 23-28 August 2013. Data has been weighted to the known population profile.