The controversial “bedroom tax” has plunged half the tenants affected into rent arrears but will fail to deliver the savings sought by the Government, according to a study published April 9.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation predicted that ending the “spare room subsidy”, which means an average housing benefit cut of £14 a week for social housing tenants, will affect 498,000 people rather than the 600,000 estimated by the Government. {jcomments on}

A year after its introduction, the foundation estimated the savings at £330 million, some £115 million lower than expected.

The foundation found that half the tenants affected were in arrears after six months.

More than 100,000 were “trapped” in larger homes and had been hit by the benefit cut even though they wanted to move, while only six per cent had moved to avoid losing out.

Some 22 per cent of those affected remained registered for a transfer or exchange but a shortage of smaller homes prevents many moving, especially in Wales and the north of England.

The study said the “bedroom tax” and wider welfare reforms introduced by Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, were forcing tenants to choose between “heating and eating.”

Three in four had cut back on food bills. “Tenants are experiencing poverty, anxiety, debt and health problems. Food banks are becoming essential. People rely on family and friends for help. Tenants and landlords expect evictions to rise,” it said.

Read the study conducted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation here


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