The government’s new report on the impact of the spare room subsidy – or the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ – makes for worrying reading.
The analysis has revealed that a staggering 60% of tenants affected by this welfare reform have been unable to meet their basic housing costs since having their benefits reduced. Although one in five claimants have registered an interest in downsizing, shortages of smaller properties mean just 4.5% of tenants had been able to move to a smaller home. As a result some have no choice but to cut back on food and energy, and others are running up debts through credit cards and payday loans.
As part of a charity supporting people in financial need in the UK, we at Turn2us know that these findings echo the experiences of our users – over a third of which are social housing tenants. Many people tell us they’ve had to choose between heating their homes and buying food for their families, or have turned to high credit lenders in their desperation to cover rising bills.
We’re also concerned by the recent government figures showing that almost two-thirds of councils have not paid their total Discretionary Housing Payment allocation to tenants. Funding for the payment was increased to help people affected by benefit changes including the spare room subsidy so it’s vital that this additional support is accessed by those in need.
With the gap between incomes and living costs widening for an increasing number of people, it’s important that they are aware of the support available to them. Anyone who is struggling can use our free Benefits Calculator and Grants Search at www.turn2us.org.uk to see if they are eligible for any additional financial support. Our website also contains more information about the spare room subsidy and how to apply for Discretionary Housing Payments.
With a number of tenants now facing increasing costs, it’s crucial that they are getting all the help they need.
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Read the Department for Work and Pensions 'Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy: Interim evaluation report