Bedroom Tax Blamed For Increasing
The apparent shortage of 1 and 2 bed properties in either the social or private rented sector means that more tenants are facing eviction for non-payment of the Bedroom Tax because there are no suitable properties available for them to move into.
Mark Rogers, Chief Executive of the Circle Housing Group, one of the UK’s largest housing associations managing 65,000 residential properties, has warned of a rise in tenant evictions because of the government’s new under-occupancy penalty, more commonly known as the bedroom tax.
Mr Rogers said “It is inevitable that there will be a long-term increase in the number of people failing to pay their rent as there are simply not enough vacant smaller properties for people affected to move into to avoid the charge. Circle Housing Group are offering tenants financial advice and encouraging those affected to look at a house exchange scheme, which has seen a 26% rise, but an increase in evictions is also to expected. The under-occupation charge is hitting a lot of people very hard, as you would expect. They are losing money and by the very nature of being on benefits, they are on very low incomes. People can’t down-size because there aren’t enough properties for them to move in to. We did a survey and one finding was that if you let every single bedroom that came vacant, and you housed an under-occupier there, it would take eight years to clear the backlog. Our view is that for the vast majority the transfer system is untenable. We won’t evict someone if we can’t find a solution for them. If they don’t take that solution that we offer, then we will evict, but we see it as our job to make sure we don’t go down that route. If that happens we see it as a failure; it is expensive to the local authority, it is expensive to the person, traumatic for the person, often not good for the community. We see evictions generally as a last resort. From our perspective I think as time goes on they will go up a little but our plan is that by using our solutions we minimise the impact.”
Nearly 4,000 of Circle’s households are affected by the new rule, which reduces the amount of benefit paid to claimants if they are deemed to have too much living space, and in recent weeks the group has seen a “new pattern of arrears developing” likely to be repeated nationally, with 50% of tenants paying the charge in full, 25% part-paying and 25% not paying at all.
Last month, Circle carried out a cost of living survey that found around 10 million adults have taken out a loan in the last year and a third of them used loans to pay for food and basic essentials.
Economists already have serious concerns that the government’s flagship welfare reforms could lead to unacceptable outcomes, including the eviction of tenants who have no other means of recourse.
The Government is also likely to be forced in to a U-turn on some of its preposterous new housing legislation though, following a landmark legal victory for common sense, last week when a disabled woman who was told she would have to share a room with her husband challenged the decision in court.
The woman, from Glasgow, who suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS), was forced into rent arrears when the government ruled the couple only needed one bedroom and were penalised for having two.
Labour is expected to receive Liberal Democrat assistance in the Lords to amend the Government’s care bill so that local authorities will have a duty to take into account the importance of ensuring adults with care and support needs have access to suitable accommodation.