The Government’s bedroom tax is having a catastrophic effect on the region’s council house tenants, with one in four falling behind on rent since its introduction.
That shocking figure comes from figures provided by six local authorities across the north east and Cumbria.
In response to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests by the False Economy website, figures show that since the bedroom tax was introduced this April, 3,600 council housing tenants – 24 per cent of all tenants affected by the tax in these areas – have been pushed into arrears.
However, across some areas the situation is much worse, with a staggering two in five tenants in Northumberland being pushed into arrears – one of the highest proportions in Britain.
Across the country over 50,000 council housing tenants have fallen behind on their rent since April – nearly a third (31 per cent) of all tenants affected by the tax in the 114 local authorities that provided data.
With emergency funding from councils drying up, the situation is likely to get worse over the coming months, False Economy warned.
That is echoed by the National Housing Federation, which warned that 50,000 people in the north east will fall foul of the bedroom tax, and that around 31,500 of those affected are disabled
The bedroom tax, introduced under the Welfare Reform Act 2012, penalises council housing and housing association tenants if they have a ‘spare’ bedroom by reducing their housing benefit by 14 per cent or 25 per cent, depending on the number of spare bedrooms.
Those affected have included disabled people who currently use ‘spare’ rooms for their carers to sleep in or to store their equipment. Other affected tenants have offered to move but are unable to be re-housed as smaller properties are not available for them to move into.
The bedroom tax, combined with other social security changes as cuts in tax credits, falling real wages and high unemployment, is forcing many already hard-pressed families even deeper into debt, says False Economy.
False Economy is concerned that as only one in ten local authorities who responded to the FOI request have a ‘no eviction’ policy, many thousands of families risk losing their homes.