Councils have needed over £5m to help bedroom tax shortfall
Merseyside councils have had to receive over £5m from the government to help its residents cover the shortfall in their rent due to bedroom tax reducing their housing benefit.
The six authorities had an initial grant of £4.2m however had to apply for further funding in discretionary housing payments, making the total £5.2m.
The money is given by the councils to tenants who have seen their housing benefits reduced as a result of the spare bedroom subsidiary, which has seen many tenants lose up to 25% of their housing benefits if they have spare bedrooms in their homes.
Many tenants have had to ask their local authorities for help making up the shortfall, with the number doing so being higher than expected. In Liverpool alone over 10,626 requests were made; however the year before only saw 1,000, reports the Liverpool Echo.
Housing associations in Merseyside have helped tenants apply for 8,617 DHP payments over the last year.
Frank Filed, Merseyside’s MP has said that the latest figures should prove to the government that the bedroom tax is not working. He said: “It has inflicted a deeper wound on poorer people in Merseyside than they originally believed. Rent arrears are soaring across the region and most tenants affected have nowhere to downsize to. That’s why it has so far cost the Government an extra £1 million in emergency assistance in Merseyside alone to limit the damage. And this sum, of course, makes no mention of the human cost which can’t be measured in pounds. The government should immediately abolish this vicious measure.”
A DWP spokesman said: “Just a year ago, the taxpayer was being forced to spend over £1m a day for spare rooms in social housing – while hundreds of thousands of families were living in cramped, overcrowded accommodation. Our reforms help ensure we make better use of our social housing stock, and we are providing councils with £345m across this year and next to support people through the changes.”
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