DCSIMG

Tax winners and losers a year on

News story

News story

THE bedroom tax is saving the Government £1m-plus a day, latest figures reveal.

But two more pieces of research published on the first anniversary of the controversial legislation found that it is doing little to free up under-occupied Wigan council homes.

And of those hit by the tax - which was introduced with the dual aim of saving taxpayers’ and getting folk with unused rooms to move into smaller houses - two thirds have fallen behind with payments, some to the point of facing eviction.

Wigan and Leigh Housing’s new chief executive Janice Barton today declined to comment on the various findings.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said that the reforms had ensured that working age social tenants were only supported by the taxpayer for the number of rooms the family unit actually needed, while helping to ensure that the country could maintain a “strong welfare safety net” to support the most vulnerable claimants.

But latest data published by the BBC under Freedom of Information found that just six per cent of affected tenants have downsized to a smaller property in the last 12 months.

It is a survey by the National Housing Federation which reveals that more than 66 per cent of tenants hit by the bedroom tax are now in rent arrears. And more than one in seven have now received a letter warning them they were at risk of eviction because of it.

On the first anniversary of the controversial cutback, which is described by ministers as the removal of a “spare room subsidy”, the DWP released figures showing that almost half a million households were having cash deducted from their benefits.

Under the new rules, social housing tenants deemed to have one more bedroom than they need lose 14 per cent of their eligible rent, while those with two or more lose 25 per cent.

The DWP’s figures showed that in November 2013, some 498,000 social housing tenants in the UK were having their benefits reduced under the policy.

Because this is 50,000 down on numbers affected in the first month of the policy’s operation, the Coalition are claiming that tens of thousands of tenants have now moved to smaller accommodation because of it.

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy said that the surveys showed “beyond any doubt” that the bedroom tax had been a miserable failure.

She said: “Only six per cent of families hit by the bedroom tax have moved, while 28 per cent have been pushed into the arms of loan sharks and payday lenders.

“The fact that Ministers are celebrating shows just how out of touch they are.

“This vindictive policy has caused real hardship. It costs more in housing benefit when people move to the private sector where rents are higher and it has failed to free up new homes. It should be abandoned.”

 

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