Social housing tenants affected by the government’s controversial ‘bedroom tax’ are being pushed into cutting back on food and heating, new research suggests.
Research carried out by Ipsos Mori, on behalf of the National Housing Federation (NHF), shows that nearly a third of all households affected by the hated ‘bedroom tax’ say they have cut back on food in order to afford to the cover the shortfall in their rent.
Housing Benefit changes introduced by the Tory-led coalition government in 2013 mean that tenants living in social homes deemed to be larger than their requirements must contribute toward the cost of their rent.
This is applied through a deduction in the amount of Housing Benefit they are able to claim – 14% deduction for one spare bedroom or 25% for two or more.
As well as the 32% who have cut back on food, the research also shows that 26% have cut back on heating, and 46% of those survey by Ipsos Mori admitted that they had borrowed money because of the ‘bedroom tax’.
79% said they may not be able to keep up with their rent payments and 89% worry whether they can meet their meet living costs.
As many as seven in ten (70%) said they were fearful of the prospect of being evicted from their home, if they could not afford to continue covering the shortfall in their rent as a result of the hated tax.
Opponents of the government’s housing policy argue that a nationwide shortage in one and two-bedroom social homes is leaving those affected trapped in larger properties, unable to downsize and forced to accept the cut in their Housing Benefit.
National Housing Federation chief executive David Orr said:
“People stung by the bedroom tax are being forced to make difficult choices on which bills to pay and which essentials to go without. They are living in fear that they will lose their homes and have resorted to borrowing from friends and family to try and get by.
“Housing associations have spent millions of pounds working more closely with their tenants, introducing projects to tackle fuel poverty and working with food banks to help alleviate food poverty. But these services have costs, which leaves less money for building new homes.
“The results of our latest survey are depressing. As we feared and warned, the bedroom tax is having a disastrous impact. The only solution is to abolish this policy which fails on every level.”
In comparison, 46% of households NOT affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ said they were concerned about falling behind on their rent. 74% said they were worried about not being able to afford to pay bills and living costs. 53% were worried about being evicted from their home.
Ipsos Mori surveyed 1002 social housing tenants between February 21 February and 7 March 2014. The pollsters surveyed 750 social housing tenants affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ and 252 tenants who were not affected. Nine households didn’t know whether they were affected or not.