Raise the Roof moves into 2010

As Westminster slowed down for Christmas, so too did the Raise the Roof Campaign. I’m happy to announce that we’re picking up speed again and we have a few things to report.

Firstly, we’re still getting letters and emails from MPs in response to the letters we sent in November. Many of these are encouraging whilst a few are more hesitant to support anything that involves increasing a tax threshold in the current economic climate. With responses from all three main political parties, Treasury, HMRC and DCLG we’re confident the message is starting to get heard in the right places.

Following an informative and productive meeting with DCLG we did some polling (at their suggestion) to gauge the likelihood of an increased threshold for the Rent a Room Scheme leading to an increase in the supply of rooms becoming available. We asked:

Would you be more likely to rent out your spare room if filling out a tax return wasn’t an issue?

87% of those who responded said yes with just 13% saying no, a clear indicator that those who see no real evidence that an increased threshold would have the desired effect need to think again.

The next stage for the campaign is to get a supportive MP to table an Early Day Motion (EDM) so we can demonstrate the level of parliamentary support the campaign has. We’re in the process of discussing this now and will hopefully have more news in the next week or two.

That’s it for now. If you haven’t signed the petition yet there’s still time and more letters to MPs will only add to the level of awareness. In an election year any issue MPs see as important to their constituents is seen as worth investigating by them (especially in marginal seats where a few hundred votes could make the difference).

Cheers (and Happy New Year)

Matt

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16 Responses to “Raise the Roof moves into 2010”

  1. rae chandler says:

    Hello Mattggged down
    Yes, I think it would encourage people like me to let a spare room, I am a pensioner living alone and would love some company, apart from the cat. I do not get out much in the cold weather and it gets rather bogged down not having anyone to speak to. I would only let a room if it was self contained, that is to say, there was a separate area for toilet and shower/wash and light cooking facilities, but also the possibility to offer a meal or two if so desired. A good idea is not to have the stairs in the lounge, only some properties could offer this but it is better to have options of living totally separate or the feeling of living with another person. Having a stranger in the house is okay, but pretty daunting depending on who it is, so a choice like this makes all the difference. It is also a good way or supplementing a state pension, to make a better living, also sharing the cost.

    Hope you did not mind me airing my views, I would not mind moving to a slightly larger house to accommodate these needs of myself and another person/s. I think plenty of older people and pensioners might do the same, just keeping an eye on each other but living independant lives, it must be better than living in an orphage (whoops I mean residential care) or sheltered leasehold accommodation, where the organization has a warden controlled environment ugggh. sounds like a prison something out of cell block H.

    R M Chandler (63)
    Clacton on Sea

  2. Simon Fuchs says:

    Letting out a room for rent makes a real difference to people on low income or people who are just starting out in life and in an expensive place like London it can make the difference as to whether a person can live here or not.

    People like me are not looking to make a huge profit out of renting a room – we really just want to help someone and cover some of our cost.

    I suspect that the low tax threshold means that many people do not declare their income – even five years ago I recall hearing stories of people paying the rent in cash to cover up any traces of payment. I do always declare my income but do feel strongly that the threashold should be pitched at a fair level

  3. keith exelby says:

    We usually only operate one room after we have reached our tax threshold; we would close down but this is not a practical solution

  4. Judith Blackstone says:

    I wrote to Martin Linton my MP who said that he was sorry to hear that rooms available for renting were being withdrawn due to the tax situation and he was sending my letter to the appropriate person (sorry but it was in November 2009 and I can’t remember who that person was) Have not heard anything since.

  5. Roger Moss says:

    Who really ends up paying the tax on the rent above the tax threshold?

    I’m looking for my next lodger, and I know the answer to this question is actually the lodger – because landlords abiding by the rent-a-room scheme will price the tax into the cost of the accommodation!

    The limit on the rent-a-room scheme doesn’t mean that landlords will necessarily charge more either. If it is raised then landlords may consider taking in more than one lodger!

  6. virginia s says:

    Thanks Matt, this idea will really help. It will help working people with low wage like me stuggling to pay the mortgage.

  7. Keith Dodd says:

    If the tax threshold was raised, it would encourage those renting room to possibly the low paid or even unemployed individuals and bring the lodger into direct social contact with house owners; who are seen as a reliable and stable influence within society.
    Once the house owner has established the lodger is reliable and trustworthy it his could led to the offer of direct employment and/or a job introduction. The unemployed person would have the ability to mix in different circles socially and integrate back into society through full time employment, for which they need a permanent address. This in turn will reduce the burden of unemployment benefit being paid out and possibly reduce the petty crime associated with the unemployed.
    As a business person and house owner myself, I would much rather make a job offer to a lodger knowing they in turn would be assisting my own cash flow by paying me rent. It will also increase to spend capacity of the Landlord within the local economy, thus aiding economic recovery. This will increase VAT revenue from purchases and general offset the lost tax income due the increase, plus of course in the case of the additional job created it will increase the revenue from income tax, save benefits being paid out and create wealth. It might even turn the loss created by the increase allowance back into a revenue gain, all of which starts to get the economic recovery simulated.

  8. Monica Forrester says:

    I am impressed by the response you received from those in favour. One point however, we will need to know whether tax that becomes payable, if the sum of 9,000 per annum is exceed will be more than 20%, otherwise this would totally defeat the objective! Basically, for us to benefit, we need to make sure we do our homework correctly in terms of who benefits, the tax man or the landlord!

  9. Susan Murray says:

    I sincerely hope this campaign works. I’m self employed and did the rent a room scheme in order to help pay my mortgage. The threshold was too low and I ended up having to move out, rent out the whole flat and move back in with my parents. All this means are there are now three more grumpy people out there in the UK!!
    I light of the fact that EVERYTHING has gone up esp. fuel bills, how can anyone be expected to rent a room out for this paltry amount especially in London?

  10. Adrianna KingHall says:

    I wrote to my MP ( Peter Ainsworth East Surrey) and had a positive reply. I pointed out that we needed to use all available resources, rather than further building. He responded as fo,llows on 30th November 2009:

    ” You certainly highlight a very interesting point pertaining to housing and the unnecessary waste of resources, particularly given the current economic climate. With this in mind, I am happy to write to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, asking him to look into the matters that you have raised and I will be in touch as soon as I have elicited a response”

    (No further news since then)

  11. Katherine Read says:

    I rent a room out and keep the rent low to comply with the rent a room scheme because I have no other additional income to require a tax return to be completed. however I do think that the figure is too low now. If I rent the room to a working person, I lose my single person council tax discount and I am not allowed to offset that against the allowed rent. I suspect that some people do not declare this to their council for that reason.

  12. Sandira says:

    I wrote to Dawn buttler who passed it on to someone else. the resonce was that they thought raising the tax reliefe was counter productive. It would not mean more people letting rooms but that it would force teh price of accomodation up in london.
    i dont think we are all gready land lords.
    When i was scratching a living as a musician i lived in the lounge and let out my master bedroom. I have a big kitchen) i only did it because i needed the money but it meant the differance of surviving and following my dreams. i think its a valuable option for low income people. i always declaired it.

  13. Alison Stevens says:

    If people are wary about renting out a room full-time, they could consider doing what I do – having a weekday lodger. I rent a room to someone who lives too far away from their work to commute comfortably, but has family responsibilities in their hometown so cannot move to near their work permanently. This has several benefits:
    - less commuting so lower carbon footprint
    - enables someone with skills to take up a job further away from home they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to (workforce mobility/better use of existing skilled workers).
    - gives me company in the week but privacy at the weekend when I’m more likely to have friends staying.
    If the tax threshold were lower I’d consider renting two rooms out in this way.

  14. Caroline Beese says:

    I will try again to write to my worse than usless MP. I am thinking of withdrawing one of my rooms because the tax threshold is so low I end up paying more tax as well as rising costs for heat, water, gas, rates etc. the net gain is minimal against a substantial lose of flexability for my personnel guests.

  15. Steven Dickens says:

    I live in a seaside area where rents are quite low if you are renting out on a year round basis and not just for the summer holiday trade. A rise to 9K would certainly not mean that I would feel able to increase the rent by very much as I just would not be able to find anyone on a long term basis who could afford it.
    However I have a further two empty Bedrooms in my house and I could certainly offer very comfortable and pleasent accomodation to another person should the limit be raised and it would help a great deal if this were to happen.

  16. admin says:

    Hi Steven,

    We’re not trying to encourage people to charge more, it’s just a fact that, in many areas of the UK, £4,250 a year is less than the going rate for a room.

    cheers
    Matt