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Government bedroom tax report finds 78% of tenants run out of money by weekend

The Department for Work and Pensions has published a report evaluating the impact of the removal of the spare room subsidy or, in common terms, the implementation of the bedroom tax.   The research, carried out by Ipsos MORI and the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research, has been carried out over a two year period.

Making ends meet

50% of those surveyed who had been affected by cuts in benefits managed to pay their whole shortfall.  The majority were able to make ends meet by using up savings, borrowing from family and friends, borrowing and making cutbacks.  Those who made cutbacks tried to reduce spending on energy costs, travel, food and leisure costs.  

63% of affected claimants, incorporating those already in work and unemployed claimants seeking work, said that they had attempted to increase their income through paid employment.  However, these claimants stated that a lack of employment opportunities in the local area or their employers’ inability to provide extra hours made earning more money very difficult.

An interim report had been published in June 2014 with details of how claimants were coping in the immediate aftermath of the policy’s implementation. 17% of the respondents who had been affected by the bedroom tax at the time of the interim report’s publication were no longer affected by it in 2014, but 46% of these people said they were no longer affected by the tax because their household composition had changed or their children had reached an age which increased their bedroom entitlement.

Discretionary support and help with downsizing

Only 29% of those affected said they had applied for a Discretionary Housing Payment to help address the shortfall in rent.  Only 36% of those who applied were granted a DHP award.

The report includes findings from research conducted with landlords.  The landlord survey suggests that around 45,000 tenants affected by the bedroom tax had successfully downsized by autumn 2014.  However, only 16% of affected tenants are estimated to be currently registered for downsizing.  Many tenants gave valid reasons for not wanting to downsize; typically related to remaining close to family, not wanting to move schools, difficulties for disabled tenants in finding appropriate smaller accommodation and feeling settled in the community and area.

Most local authorities and landlords interviewed reported that large numbers of tenants are unable to move because of a shortage of smaller homes.

More information

Both a summary report and the full evaluation are available from gov.uk.

Tagged In

Benefits, Outside NI, Welfare Reform, Affordability

This article was written on 18 December 2015. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.