Study finds bedroom tax is making low-income tenants chose between heating or eating
A study by the DWP has found that the majority of tenants affected by the bedroom tax have been unable to meet the rent shortfall.
A government-commissioned analysis of the policy’s impact reveals that thousands of low-income tenants have been plunged into ‘heat or eat’ hardship due to the bedroom tax.
The study has found that 60% of the 523,000 tenants affected have been unable to meet housing benefit shortfalls of between £14 and £22 a week in full, reports the Guardian.
The report found that many tenants are cutting back on food and energy or running up debts to try to afford their rent payments.
Although one in five claimants has registered an interest in downsizing, shortages of smaller properties mean only 4.5% of tenants had been able to move to a smaller home.
One social landlord told researchers: “Our customers (tenants) are in severe hardship through this reduction in housing benefit and many are needing vouchers for food banks after making rent payments. Customers are distraught and telling us they cannot cope and we are dealing with regular threats of suicide.”
The work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, defended the government’s package of housing benefit changes, saying that the DWP was “on track” to have saved over £6bn by next April.
The report also found that 45 tenants were evicted as a direct result of the bedroom tax during the first six months of its implementation.
In response to the report, 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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