Housing Associations are becoming increasingly concerned that many more tenants are at risk of eviction due to the “bedroom tax” (under-occupancy penalty), which reduces the amount of Housing Benefit paid to a claimant if they are deemed to have too much living space.{jcomments on}

The Guardian reported on Saturday that Mark Rogers, chief executive of Circle Housing Group, which manages 65,000 homes, said he felt it was inevitable that there would be a long-term increase in the number of people failing to pay their rent.

Nearly 4,000 of Circle's households are affected by the new rule.

Rogers said there were simply not enough vacant smaller properties for people affected to move into to avoid the charge.

He added: "The under-occupation charge is hitting a lot of people very hard, as you would expect. They are losing money and by the very nature of being on benefits, they are on very low incomes. People can't down-size because there aren't enough properties for them to move in to.

In recent weeks the group has seen a "new pattern of arrears developing" likely to be repeated nationally, with 50% of tenants paying the charge in full, 25% part-paying and 25% not paying at all.

He said his group was offering financial advice and encouraging those affected to look at a house exchange scheme, for which he reported a 26% rise, but an increase in evictions could be expected.


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