The Effects Of Bedroom Tax A Year On

A recent survey commissioned by the National Housing Federation (NHF) says that the Bedroom Tax is “heaping misery and hardship” on affected families.

Bedroom Tax was introduced by the Government in April 2013. It affects 660,000 housing benefit claimants living in social housing across the UK. The policy imposes an average penalty of between £14 and £22 a week on working-age tenants deemed to have more bedrooms than they need. One year on and according to the NHF two-thirds of households in England affected by the Bedroom Tax have fallen into rent arrears and one in seven families have received eviction letters.

The disability charity Papworth Trust says that a third of disabled people affected by the tax have been refused emergency financial help, despite Government stating that discretionary housing payments should be available to disabled people who live in adapted homes.

Papworth Trust says many disabled people who have been refused emergency payments were now cutting back on essentials such as food or household bills. It called on Ministers to exempt people living in adapted properties from the tax.

A bill to abolish the tax will be introduced by Labour backbench MP Ian Lavery and Lord Freud, the Welfare Minister, will appear before a committee of MPs to answer questions on welfare reform.

Ian Lavery said “I have seen with my own eyes the absolutely astounding impact the bedroom tax has on disabled and sick people. I’m not sure the Government is aware of the hardship and misery it has caused. We are talking about ordinary people who have been forced to move from the homes where they have spent a lifetime raising their kids. They have been cast out like dogs in the night.”

It is said by the Government that the number of people affected by the tax is lower than initial Government estimates. Figures published by the DWP revealed that in November 2013 498,174 claimants were affected by the policy, suggesting a saving of £373 million, £107 million less than expected.

The DWP insists that the lower figure is due to tenants ‘moving house or finding work and increasing their earnings’. The Bedroom Tax has also had a vastly different impact in different parts of the UK. DWP figures show 52,196 households were affected in London, compared to 78,836 in the North West of England.

There have been a number of successful First-Tier Tribunal rulings upholding appeals against Bedroom Tax decisions. However, there has been no relevant ruling from the Upper-Tribunal setting any legal precedent threatening the policy. There are currently further legal challenges on the horizon especially in the absence of a sufficient definition by the DWP as to what constitutes a ‘bedroom’. No doubt Social Housing tenants across the country will continue to show support for the tax to be abolished.

You can obtain further information on the effects of Bedroom Tax by contacting Aisha Akhtar Solicitor in the Housing Management & Leasehold Services Team on 020 8799 1884