Bedroom Tax has hit social housing tenants in the North West of England harder than any other region of the UK, a survey suggests.
The shocking results of a survey from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) also reveal how only 16% of newly affected households (wave 3) say bedroom tax encourages them to look for work.
35% of social housing tenants in the North West of England, who were surveyed by the DWP, reported a reduction in Housing Benefit entitlement as a result of the Bedroom Tax in its third wave, otherwise knows as removal of the ‘Spare Room Subsidy’ or under-occupation penalty.
Joint second were social housing residents in the North East, West Midlands and the East of England (28%). In third were Yorkshire and the Humber, the East Midlands and Scotland (27%). Wales (23%), North East (22%). The least affected were those in the South East and South West (16%).
17% of social housing tenants living in London reported a drop in Housing Benefit.
The survey also revealed how tenants between the ages of 50-59 were more likely to be forced to contribute toward their rent than any other age group (46%), during the third wave of the introduction of bedroom tax.
35-49 year-old were the second most affected group (29%), while the under 35’s came in a close third at 27%.
60-69 year-olds and those over the age of 70 were the least affected groups, according to the survey – 7% and 4% respectively.
Female social housing tenants were slightly more likely to be affected by the bedroom tax than men – 25% of females surveyed compared to 23% of men.
In total 24% of those interviewed by the DWP said their Housing Benefit had been reduced as a result of the bedroom tax. Nearly three-quarters said it had stayed the same and 2% said they didn’t know if it had changed.
When asked what options they would consider to help manage their housing costs, 30% of those affected by the bedroom tax said they would move to a smaller property.
45% said they would apply for a Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) – local authority administered financial support available to affected households struggling to pay rent – and 21% said they may consider swapping homes.
Only 16% said they would consider looking for a job, while 5% said they would ask other adults in their household to pay rent.
7% said they would consider increasing the number of hours they currently worked.
A whopping 31% angrily said they would not consider any of the options presented to them by the DWP.
Social housing tenants occupying a property deemed to be larger than their requirements must downsize to a smaller property or contribute toward their rent through a deduction in Housing Benefit entitlement – 14% for one ‘spare’ room or 25% for two or more.
Opponents of the policy argue there is a shortage of smaller social homes, meaning those affected are unable to move and can be trapped into paying the bedroom tax.
Around 3 in 4 affected households include a person who is disabled. Critics say adapting a smaller home to meet the needs of a disabled person, when their current home may already have been expensively adapted, will result in additional costs for local authorities.
A recent attempt by the Labour Party to force the government to abolish the bedroom tax was defeated by 298 to 266 votes.