Study also reveals almost half have cut back on food spending to cope
The so-called bedroom tax has increased hardship among those affected, with nearly half reporting that they had to cut back on food spending to cope, a Government-ordered study has revealed.
The report, commissioned by the Department of Work and Pensions and published on the last day before MPs take their Christmas break, finds that 78 per cent of people affected by the removal of the spare room subsidy – otherwise known as the bedroom tax – regularly run out of money by the end of the week or the month.
It also reveals that only a third of people affected who applied for emergency support to pay the rent received any help.
The bedroom tax, which came into effect in April 2013, saw the housing benefits of hundreds of thousands of social tenants cut if they had a spare bedroom in their property. The new report, compiled by Ipsos MORI and the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions, is based on research, surveys and interviews into the impact of the policy carried out in 2013 and 2014.
It says that people who were still affected by the bedroom tax in 2014 were “more likely than those no longer affected to say they run out of money by the end of the week or month very or fairly often”.
“Among those still affected, claimants had paid the rent by: using up savings, borrowing from family and friends or accruing debt,” the report says.
One in four of those affected cut back spending on heating and electric bills, one in five had to reduce their spend on transport, and 44 per cent had to reduce spending on food.
By autumn 2014, only 16 per cent of tenants still affected by the bedroom tax were registered to move to a smaller property. The report says that disabled tenants have had particular difficulty moving out of a property affected by bedroom tax because of “difficulties…finding a property that meets their needs as well as in packing and transporting their belongings”.
The report also finds that the number of households affected by the bedroom tax fell from 547,000 in May 2013 to 465,000 November 2014.