An official report reveals that almost 60% of tenants hit by the Government’s bedroom tax are struggling to pay the additional rent.
A study into the impact of the removal of the spare room subsidy has found that 300,000 people affected were in rent arrears just five months after the charges came into force, reports the Local Gov.
Over the same period almost 41% of tenants had reported to have paid the additional rent and 39% had only paid a portion of it.
57% of people affected had reported that they were cutting back on ‘household essentials’ in order to pay for their rent shortfall, whilst over a quarter had said they’d borrowed money.
Only 4.5% of affected tenants were reported by landlords to have downsized over the first six months of the scheme. A spokesperson from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said such figures were ‘a promising start’.
Barriers preventing downsizing included attachment to an area, employment and support networks alongside suitable alternative accommodation.
The report found evidence that tenants living in areas with a high proportion of people affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ were finding it harder to downsize than those in areas where lower numbers are affected.
The report said: ‘At the time of the research, four out of five claimants affected by the RSRS were reported by landlords to be paying some or all of their shortfall, although half of these had failed to pay in full. There was widespread concern about the impact of potential future evictions on local services, and on landlord finances as well as on the lives of vulnerable people. Few tenants have found work or taken in lodgers. However, demand for downsizing has been greater than anticipated, although, in many areas, this demand has thus far been difficult to meet.’
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said the report ‘lays bare the damage wreaked’ by the policy. “Fewer than one in ten landlords say that government help for struggling tenants is working well and local authorities report that it is making it more difficult for them to house homeless single people. The “bedroom tax” is one of the most pointlessly cruel welfare policies instigated by a government that remains determined to take away the safety net that so many rely upon.”
Commenting on the findings, David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: “Time and time again it has been shown that the “bedroom tax” is pushing people into rent arrears and people have been unable to downsize because of a lack of smaller properties. Now the figures from the DWP prove it is not working, surely now it is time for the government to admit they got it wrong and repeal this ill-thought policy.”
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