Bedroom tax 'could force thousands into private rented sector'
Thursday 21st June 2012
Housing associations in the North-East of England are warning that they do not have enough smaller homes for thousands of tenants who will be displaced by the new ‘bedroom tax’.
They say that up to 50,000 households in the region could be affected and could have to be moved into private rental accommodation.
One of the housing associations, Coast & Country, estimates it has 2,500 tenants who are under-occupying their homes, but only 16 spare one-bed houses.
The ‘bedroom tax’ is being introduced next April and will be an under-occupation charge for people living in social housing who have a spare room.
Tenants will have to move to a smaller home or accept a cut in benefits. The Government has said that this will be set at 14% for one extra bedroom and 25% for two or more spare bedrooms.
Even households where every bedroom is used will be hit, because under the new rules, children of different genders will be expected to share bedrooms until the age of ten, and if they are the same gender, up to the age of 16.
The Department for Work and Pensions estimates that the bedroom tax will affect 670,000 households across Britain – approximately one-third of tenants on housing benefit who currently live in the social sector.
Monica Burns, North-East manager for the National Housing Federation, said: “These new rules are futile and unfair. Housing associations in the North-East have always been encouraged by Government to build bigger homes so families could live in the same homes for life and didn’t have to move when they had children. And as land was cheaper here that made good sense. Now those same tenants and housing associations are being penalised for having the wrong type of house.
“The welfare bill could even go up as a result. Many families on benefits will have no choice but to up sticks and move to private rented accommodation. The Government will then have to pay a higher rate of housing benefit to cover their rents for smaller homes. These are the consequences of a blanket top-down policy that failed to listen to local people.”
Iain Sim, chief executive of Coast & Country, said: “We are very concerned about this and the impact it will have on our tenants. We currently have around 2,500 under-occupying tenants who face losing up to £25 a week, but we only have 16 one-bedroom properties available for them to move in to.
"This will potentially push more people into poverty.”
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