New Data Shows ‘Bedroom Tax’ Pushing Thousands of People into Arrears
Published by SFHA for Scottish Federation Of Housing Associations in Housing and also in Bill Payments, Universal Credit
The ‘Bedroom Tax’ is pushing thousands of council housing tenants across the UK into rent arrears for the first time, new data from the TUC revealed today (Wednesday 19th September 2013). (1)
An FOI request by the body shows that one in three council tenants affected by a recent cut to housing benefit has fallen behind on rent since the policy took effect.
The data also shows eight Scottish local authorities in the top 20 worst-affected areas in the UK.
Increasing numbers of tenants living in Scotland’s housing associations and co-operatives are also struggling to pay their rent after the introduction of the bedroom tax, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations said today.
The SFHA has consistently warned the measure is having disastrous consequences for both Scotland’s tenants and housing associations and co-operatives – who manage half of Scotland’s affordable housing.
Figures from the SFHA’s English sister body, the National Housing Federation, show that more than half of families hit by the policy, who live in housing association properties in England, have fallen behind with their rent since the policy came into force. (2)
Dr Mary Taylor, CEO of the SFHA said:
“I’m not surprised that the figures unearthed by the TUC show a massive rise in rent arrears UK wide, and such a dramatic impact in many Scottish local authorities. Across Scotland, housing associations and co-operatives are reporting huge increases in the number of tenants unable to pay their rent, as a direct result of the bedroom tax.
“The plain fact is that tenants can’t readily downsize because there simply isn’t the supply of smaller, alternative properties for them to move into. If people can’t afford to make up the difference they are going into arrears instead.
“The ‘bedroom tax’ aims to reduce Housing Benefit spend, but it will actually result in higher spending as tenants are forced to move from cheaper, larger social rented properties to smaller but more expensive private rented sector properties. The DWP’ own forecast recognises this.
“The policy is driving up rent arrears in the social housing sector, which reduces the revenues available to maintain existing social housing stock. It is also increasing rent collection costs, which have to be paid from rental income. It has the potential to undermine the long-term viability of social housing providers across the UK.
“The SFHA is also concerned that the ‘bedroom tax’ could threaten the viability of rural communities. If tenants can not afford to pay the shortfall in Housing Benefit arising from the ‘bedroom tax’, they may be forced to move a long away from their communities.
Dr Taylor concluded:
“Our message is simple: this measure must be repealed.”
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(3) The SFHA was established in 1976 and has around 119 members providing affordable housing and wider community services in Scotland, as well as a further 200 commercial members. The SFHA is owned by its membership and exists to support the work of housing associations and co-operatives in Scotland by providing services, advice and good practice guidance. www.sfha.co.uk
(4) The SFHA is the voice of the principal builders and managers of new affordable housing for rent in Scotland. Housing Associations own and manage around 40% of the country’s affordable rented housing stock, over a quarter of a million homes across Scotland.
(5) Housing associations and co-operatives are not-for-profit bodies regulated by the Scottish Housing Regulator.
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