Income divide widened by social housing tenant's debt
- 16 Oct
A housing association has researched the impact of financial and economic changes on household and has found a widening income gap between its tenants.
Merseyside-based Riverside's 'Challenging Times, Changing Lives' project is following 20 tenants over three years to assess how people are coping with the government's austerity measures, reports 24dash.
The fourth of the projects' six-monthly updates has revealed that the lowest income group is experiencing a greater struggle than previously reported. This group has taken on more debts to cover sudden and unforeseen changes in benefit entitlement and the deepening impact of the bedroom tax. The gap between the highest and lowest household incomes has widened by 9%, with the spread of incomes ranging from £350 to £2,691 a month.
Hugh Owen, Riverside's director of policy and research, said: "A quarter of participants, all with poor credit ratings, have taken on new debts since their last interviews. They're paying extortionate interest rates from high street credit stores, up to 64.7%, plus penalties for missed payments. A missed £17 monthly payment snowballed into a £175 bailiff's charge for one tenant. People are feeling the impact of a more draconian and inflexible approach to conditionality. One participant even saw their benefits reduced as a result of a sanction imposed on Christmas Eve, just because they missed an appointment while attending a Job Centre-backed basic skills programme."
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