One in three council tenants in rent arrears thanks to bedroom tax

Children|Family|News|September 23rd 2013

Nearly one in three council house tenants targeted by the ‘spare room subsidy’ – more popularly known as the ‘bedroom tax’ – have fallen into rent arrears, new research suggests.

The controversial measure, introduced in April, sees council house tenants judged to have too many rooms in their homes subjected to cuts in their housing benefit – 14 per cent for a single excess room or a hefty 25 per cent for two or more ‘spare’ rooms.

Affected families include the disabled, who may have had extra rooms for use by their carers or to store living equipment such as wheelchairs; as well as foster carers looking after more than one child.

Campaign group False Economy gathered figures from 114 local authorities around the country, using Freedom of Information requests. According to the data, around 50,000 of their tenants have slid into rent arrears since the subsidy came into force –31per cent of all tenants who have been subjected to the cuts.

In some areas the proportion is higher – as many as 76 per cent have fallen into arrears in Barrow in Furness, Cumbria.

Clackmannanshire, Tamworth and South Kesteven are the second, third and fourth most affected local authorities, with more than half effected tenants now in arrears.

Clifford Singer is Campaign Manager for False Economy. He said: “These figures show once again the predictable chaos that has resulted from the hated bedroom tax. Together with the raft of other benefits cuts the government has forced through both this year and previously, the bedroom tax is driving tenants and families who were just making ends meet into arrears, and pushing those who were already struggling with the cost of living into a full-blown crisis.”

He added:

“At a time when the government is actively trying to stoke a new housing bubble for purely political ends, we have people being punished for the lack of affordable housing and the decades-long failure to invest in social and council housing. The worst part is that these figures have been collated while councils’ emergency Discretionary Housing Payments are still available; they are being used up at record speed and when they run out, these figures will only get worse.”

Only one in ten local councils who responded to the research said they had a policy of not evicting tenants in financial difficulty.

Author: Stowe Family Law

Comments(3)

  1. u6c00 says:

    There are a lot of supporters of the bedroom tax, and in principle it seems like a good idea – move people into smaller houses to free up larger homes for larger families.

    The government said it would save £480 million pounds per year, which was simply 660,000 (the number of affected social housing tenants) x £14 (the average weekly benefit shortfall) x 52 (weeks in a year). Anyone can see that this saving works entirely on the assumptions that a) no one would successfully move to smaller accommodation; b) that tenants would make up the shortfall and c) social housing tenants wouldn’t downsize by moving into private housing with much higher rents and a corresponding increase in the housing benefit bill.

    Instead you have this situation where central government has paid local councils the housing benefit, tenants haven’t made up the shortfall and so local councils are left out of pocket. Central government has transferred its debt to local government, who will now have to find the remainder from somewhere (eviction proceedings and dealing with appeals and tribunals are costly, and those costs are met by local government). Expect other services to be cut to make up for it.

  2. Tulsa Divorce Lawyer Matt Ingham says:

    I have never heard of a bedroom tax before.

  3. Luke says:

    The idea is fine and is fairer, to house larger families in larger government subsidised accommodation and smaller families in smaller government subsidised accommodation – the problem has been that they have also tried to do this where the smaller government subsidised accommodation isn’t available ! That is the problem I have with it.

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