Bedroom tax leaves housing tenants in arrears

Boston Borough Council area from The Stump.
Boston Borough Council area from The Stump.

Nearly two thirds of Boston Mayflower’s tenants affected by the Government’s bedroom tax are now in arrears to the social housing provider.

The housing association has been working with those affected and helped more than 40 households to downsize.

The Government policy, introduced in April 2013, cuts the amount of Housing Benefit people of working age can receive if they are considered to have a spare bedroom.

The reduction is 14 per cent for households with one extra bedroom and 25 per cent for those with two or more.

Boston Mayflower’s Director of Operations, Matthew Spittles, said: “The bedroom tax has resulted in increased hardship for some of our tenants.

“Our Fit 4 Your Future team, which provides financial advice and support, has helped to mitigate some of the arrears our tenants are facing - with the team receiving more than 500 referrals for assistance since its inception a year ago.

“We will continue to do all we can to assist our tenants in maintaining their rent accounts.”

Research by the National Housing Federation (NHF), which represents the work of housing associations, shows that two thirds of households affected by the bedroom tax in England cannot find the money to pay their rents.

It also found that each housing association with affected tenants spent an average of £73,250 on additional resources before April 2013 to help residents prepare and cope, including the provision

of welfare and financial advice services.

Demand for Discretionary Housing Payments, a limited emergency fund provided by the Government for the most vulnerable households impacted by the bedroom tax, has tripled this year.

NHF Chief Executive David Orr said: “You can argue over what to call the policy, but there is no disputing the impact that the bedroom tax is having across the country.

“It is heaping misery and hardship on already struggling families, pushing them into arrears.

“The Government has suddenly changed the rules and given them a false choice: move to a smaller home or pay. Yet we know there aren’t enough smaller homes in England for these families to move into.

“Housing associations are doing all they can to avoid evicting residents, but as not-for-profit organisations they can’t simply write-off unpaid rent. From day one we have said the bedroom tax is unfair, unworkable and just bad policy.

“It’s putting severe pressure on thousands of the nation’s poorest people and must be repealed.”

For more information about Boston Mayflower’s Fit 4 Your Future team call 01205 318597.