1 in 3 council tenants face eviction over Bedroom Tax

One in three council tenants have fallen behind on their rent since the introduction of the Bedroom Tax, according to new figures from False Economy.

One in three council tenants affected by the Bedroom Tax have fallen behind on their rent since its introduction, according to new figures from the TUC.

In response to a Freedom of Information request (FOI) in which 114 local authorities across Britain responded, it was revealed that over 50,000 council housing tenants – 31 per cent of those affected by the tax in those areas – are now in arrears.

In some areas the figure is even higher, with three quarters of council tenants affected by the Bedroom Tax in Barrow, Cumbria, pushed into arrears.

The Bedroom Tax, which came in from 1 April 2013 as part of the 2012 Welfare Reform Act, charges people in social housing based on how many spare rooms they have, and hits tenants aged 16 to 65. Benefits are reduced by 14 per cent for one room and 25 per cent for two or more bedrooms. On average, an individual affected by the Bedroom Tax is losing between £14-£25 a week.

The TUC found that:

  • 76 per cent of affected council housing tenants in Barrow have fallen into arrears since the bedroom tax started.

  • Clackmannanshire, Tamworth and South Kesteven are the next worst affected areas. Over half of all affected council housing tenants have fallen behind on their rent since the bedroom tax was introduced.

  • Across the sample of local authorities that responded to FOI requests over 50,000 council tenants have fallen into arrears since the tax was introduced. The total number of affected council tenants across Britain is likely to be far higher.

  • Evidence is also emerging of problems in housing associations, with social housing providers in Knowsley reporting a doubling in the number of arrears cases among bedroom tax households.

Many tenants are having to pay higher rents because there are not enough smaller council properties for those hit by benefit changes to move into. A DWP assessment carried out earlier this year estimated that 31 per cent (660,000) of social housing tenants would have their housing benefit cut as a result of the Bedroom Tax. The report added that there was “a mismatch between the accommodation required by tenants and the actual availability of accommodation”, which could “mean that there are insufficient properties to enable tenants to move to accommodation of an appropriate size”.

Labour has been coming under increasing pressure to pledge to reverse the Bedroom Tax should it come to power in 2015. However while opposing the policy before its introduction, the party not yet made clear whether it would reverse the policy in government.

The party’s welfare spokeperson in Scotland was recently slapped down by party HQ for suggesting Labour was about to make a statement promising to scrap the hated tax.

On the Good Morning Scotland programme, Jackie Baillie was asked: “Would a Westminster Labour government abolish the bedroom tax?”

Ms Baillie replied: “We are very clear. Labour rejected this approach when it was put to them in government, for social landlords. We have campaigned for its abolition.

“Yes we will abolish it. My understanding is that you can expect an announcement relatively soon.”

However a UK Labour spokesperson said the comments did not reflect current Labour policy.

“It goes against what we are saying – we haven’t made that pledge to date,” the spokesperson said.

Prior to its introduction, Left Foot Forward looked at Five things David Cameron doesn’t want you to know about the Bedroom Tax.

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