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New research shows continuing harm caused by bedroom tax

Categories: Articles:Social Justice | Published: 08/04/2014 | Views: 1001
New research shows that the number of households hit by the bedroom tax has fallen by just 15 per cent during the last year, with nearly six out of seven affected households unable to avoid a cut in rent support. The research, sourced under the Freedom of Information Act by advocacy outfit False Economy, reveals that the number of households subject to the bedroom tax – which results in a reduction in their housing benefit – has actually increased in some local authorities, and barely fallen in others. (Ekklesia)

The research suggests that the vast majority of tenants hit have been unable to respond to the cut in their housing budget by moving to a smaller home, earning their way out of housing benefit or taking in a lodger as the government expected.

As rent arrears grow and the widely predicted shortage of vacant one-bedroom properties becomes more apparent, thousands of low-income households have had no choice but to try to absorb a significant cut in their income.

Ministers will claim that the figures could improve over four or five years – but by then many tenants will have been buried under a mountain of unpayable debts, says False Economy.

The figures show the change in councils’ bedroom tax caseload – comparing the number of households who were subject to a reduction in their housing benefit when the tax was introduced last April to the numbers affected in February and March 2014. Some local authorities report an increase in their bedroom tax caseload, while most show only modest reductions.

If the bedroom tax had achieved its stated objective of significantly cutting both the under-occupation and the overcrowding of social housing, the caseload reduction would be significantly greater, says False Economy.

The research’s key findings include:

 * In some parts of the country, the number of people affected by the tax has actually risen during the year – with New Forest and Arun District Councils both reporting a 25 per cent increase.

 * Only eight councils across Britain have seen their bedroom tax caseload fall by more than a third – compared to 100 local authorities where it has fallen by less than ten per cent.

 * The nation or region with the smallest drop in bedroom tax caseload was Scotland – where many councils are refusing to evict affected tenants – but the North East and Wales also had low reductions. More here

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