£1million in rent arrears and 700 empty properties in Wales due to bedroom tax
- 26 Nov
Community Housing Cymru believes that the spare bedroom subsidy has put many into rent arrears and left more than 700 homes empty in Wales as well threatening social justice cohesion.
Commenting on the research, CHC chief executive Nick Bennett, said: "Just six months into this policy, we see a double whammy affecting the supply crisis. We've seen a surge in the number of ‘void' or empty properties and 78% of our members have seen an increase in rent arrears, with over £1 million attributed to the ‘bedroom tax'."
The research highlights 51% of tenants are paying the shortfall in their rent, 37% are part-paying their rent whilst 12% are paying nothing at all, reports 24dash.
Mr Bennett added: "We anticipate that the number of tenants struggling to pay their rent will only increase, and we can expect ‘bedroom tax' arrears to double to over £2m by April next year, enough to service around £40m worth of debt which could be used to deliver 400 new affordable homes. The rise in void properties has meant that over 700 homes in the sector are increasingly hard to let, with many remaining empty. With an estimated 90,000 people on social housing waiting lists, can we justify a policy that sees Wales losing out on 1,000 affordable homes?"
The research shows that only 3% of the 22,000 housing association tents affected have successfully been downsized. CHC has argued that there are not enough one and two bedroom properties for people to move to. They believe that landlords are faced with tough choices and that the policy threatens social justice cohesion, where tenants turn against tenants and landlords.
Mr Bennet says: "We note what's been happening around Wales with various protests against the ‘bedroom tax', with landlords getting the blame. Tenant groups and some politicians have campaigned for a ‘no bedroom tax evictions' policy, but landlords can't continue to subsidise the extra costs brought about by welfare reform which would impact on the potential reduction in services for other tenants who pay their rent. We need to stand back and realise that the only solution is to take power closer to the people. We can now look to Northern Ireland and see them using their powers in welfare policy to do something different. They have legislated to stop the ‘bedroom tax' affecting existing tenants. Like Wales, it is affected to a far greater degree than England and Scotland, but their devolution settlement has allowed them to protect the people of Northern Ireland from the policy, and also to adapt the upcoming changes to Universal Credit and direct payments to fit the needs of Northern Irish tenants. With the Silk Commission due to report on further powers for the Assembly in the New Year, we believe this is a perfect opportunity to give Wales's parity with Northern Ireland on welfare powers."
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Image source: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/169849
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