Hundreds of social housing properties across Merseyside are standing empty because they have become too expensive to rent.
The highly controversial ‘bedroom tax’ housing policy is leading to three and four-bedroom social homes in Liverpool becoming unaffordable for low-income families, reports the Liverpool Echo.
Changes to Housing Benefit mean that social housing tenants deemed to be under-occupying their home must contribute toward their rent, through a deduction in their benefit entitlement.
The deduction is dependent upon the number of extra bedrooms a person has, with the maximum deduction standing at 25%.
A shortage of smaller properties has resulted in some families being forced to put up and shut up, because they cannot downsize and escape the ‘bedroom tax’.
St. Helens based Helena Partnerships say they have a massive 10-year waiting list for one-bedroom homes and are now converting larger properties to help meet the demand.
As well as a shortage in one and two-bedroom social homes, housing associations in Liverpool and across Merseyside are reporting that hundreds of their properties have become unrentable.
Cobalt Housing currently has 50 empty three and four-bedroom properties, compared to 27 in March, and Plus Dane has 100 larger properties sitting vacant, up from 84 in March.
Some housing associations are reducing the number of larger properties they manage, either through selling them off or by converting them into smaller homes. Knowsley Housing Trust has reduced its number of larger empty homes from 168 in March to 112.
Housing associations say they will continue to look for innovative ways of managing their properties to suit the changing needs of their tenants.