Two thirds of households affected by the so-called bedroom tax cannot find the money to pay their rents, new research suggests.
The survey also reveals that nine in ten north east housing associations are significantly affected by the policy – the highest rate in England.
The poll for the National Housing Federation found that 66% of their residents hit by the bedroom tax are in rent arrears, with more than a third (38%) in debt because they were unable to pay the bedroom tax.
In the north east, housing associations have an average of 645 tenants each affected by the bedroom tax, the highest number in England, with each household facing an average annual reduction in their housing benefit of £687 a year.
The Government’s own figures show that almost 39,000 north east households saw a cut in their housing benefit in August of last year and that two thirds of people affected by the bedroom tax are disabled.
Demand for Discretionary Housing Payments, a limited emergency fund provided by the Government for the most vulnerable households impacted by the bedroom tax, has risen drastically over the past year. The north east has seen the biggest rise with applications up 482% on average.
Monica Burns, north east external affairs manager for the National Housing Federation, said: “You can argue over what to call the policy, but there is no disputing the impact that the bedroom tax is having in the north east.
“It is heaping misery and hardship on already struggling families, pushing them into arrears. Now many are at risk of being evicted because they simply can’t find the extra money to pay rent. From day one we have said the bedroom tax is unfair, unworkable and just bad policy.”