A quarter of tenants subject to “bedroom tax” now being forced to leave their homes reports N.W. England’s biggest social landlord

Channel Four

 

The biggest social housing landlord in the north west says almost a quarter of its tenants subject to the so-called “bedroom tax” are being forced to leave their homes.

 
Jayson and Charlotte Carmichael (ITN)
Jayson and Charlotte Carmichael (ITN)

 

From April, social housing tenants deemed to be under-occupying their properties will be charged an under-occupation penalty, which will be deducted from their housing benefit entitlements.

Riverside Housing, which manages 50,000 properties nationwide, says 24 per cent of its tenants who will be affected are searching for alternative accommodation, while 63 per cent intend to stay in their homes and pay the penalty.

The new levy, dubbed the “bedroom tax”, is central to the government’s welfare reform agenda, but has attracted criticism from housing associations and charities.

Under-occupied

The penalty will be applied to working age social housing tenants who are judged to be under-occupying their homes.

Couples and children of the same sex are expected to share a room, as are any two children under 10 regardless of gender.

Tenants with disabilities will also be subject to the penalty, unless a bedroom is used by a non-resident carer who stays overnight.

Jayson and Charlotte Carmichael from Southport received a letter informing them they will be expected to contribute an additional £11.90 per week towards the cost of their two bedroom flat.

Charlotte suffers from spinal bifida and sleeps in a hospital-style bed which is designed especially for her condition, while Jayson sleeps in the second bedroom.

The couple are now deemed to be under-occupying the property.

‘Penalised’

The letter tells them their options are to pay the penalty, move to a smaller home or take in a lodger.

“It’s so depressing,”

says Charlotte.

“I have to sleep in this bed. I didn’t ask to live like this.”

“I’ll have to give up bus travel,” says Jayson. “And we’ll have to cancel the television subscription.

“I don’t know why we’re being penalised. We’re not under-occupying this flat.

“Charlotte needs to sleep in a hospital bed because she’s severely disabled. We’re already pushed for space with all the medical equipment.

“It’s disgraceful.”

Hardest hit in the north

The housing benefit changes are expected to hit hardest in the north of England, where there are fewer one and two bedroom properties available to social housing tenants.

It is predicted that 600,000 people will be affected nationwide, around 20 per cent of social housing tenants. However, in some parts of the North West more than 40 per cent of those in social housing will be subject to the penalty.

“Nobody wants to move, but some people have to because they simply won’t be able to pay,”

says Christine Frazer from Riverside Housing.

“The problem is those that are moving to avoid the penalty need one and two bedroom flats and there just aren’t the properties for them.

“We work so hard to build strong communities, but a quarter of people leaving all at once will tear them apart and there’ll be more anti-social behaviour.”

Huge demand

According to figures from the Department for Work and Pensions around 600,000 one bedroom flats will be needed to accommodate tenants currently under-occupying larger homes, but national housing stocks for this kind of property stand at just 300,000.

In the Liverpool city region there are 10 potential tenants for each one bedroom flat that comes on the social housing market. Estimates suggest it will take seven to eight years to find smaller properties for those willing to downsize in this area, not taking into account new demand.

Councillor Karen Garrido, leader of the Conservative group on Salford Council, admits the process will take time.

Her advice to those facing a long wait to be re-housed is to move into the private rental sector or take in a lodger.

She insists social landlords will not evict tenants who cannot afford to pay the under-occupation penalty.

However, while Riverside Housing says it will do all it can to assist those who come into financial difficulty, it admits repeated failure to pay will result in tenants being evicted from their homes.

 

Channel Four News

 

Comments
  • Ian Davies January 27, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    It’s wrong to make people take in lodgers in fact you can’t do it without permission from the landlord, they know many can’t move easily so they are just punishing them. My plan was to move this year to a smaller property but the chances have reduced dramatically.

  • Mud January 27, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Try looking into discretionary housing payments. Where I live the local council has funds for that.

    • Jane Carr January 28, 2013 at 9:17 am

      Why should the council line the pockets of this “big social housing landlord” ~ who is it anyway? I wouldn’t be able to sleep in the same room as my partner, we’ve slept separately for years, to be forced to sleep together is a violation against human rights, surely ~ how dare they dictate someones private sleeping arrangements! Stupid and wrong!!

  • Red Oktober January 27, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    Councillor Karen Garrido, whos advice is to move into the private rental sector or take in a lodger, and that social landlords will not evict tenants who cannot afford to pay the under-occupation penalty, needs to be taken to task on her comments which are at best misinformed.

    Tenants affected by the “bedroom tax” which will come in to force in April this year need to get together to form a “Can’t pay wont Pay” campaign. Get organised now!

    • Jane Carr January 28, 2013 at 9:22 am

      YES!!!

    • PJO January 29, 2013 at 7:29 pm

      Maybe People will stand together against this evil Tory tax the way they did against the poll tax.

  • chindit January 27, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    not only in rent arears to the landlords but shortly they intent showing these arears on your credit file making a move harder.

  • Serenity January 28, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    Move into the private rental sector if that isn’t the most stupid, ill-thought out piece of advice ever, I’ll eat my hat!
    Give up the security of a council property for a six month let in the private sector where if given two months notice by your private landlord you are out on the street and if you don’t/can’t go next step is eviction by the courts.
    The rents in the private sector can be up to three times more expensive than with the council per month and with the benefit cap on housing benefit which comes into force for everyone in April also you may find you are still in the same position and that your private rental is above the cap on housing benefit in your area so you will have to make up the difference yourself and may end up paying out even more money too a private landlord than the extra bedroom tax would have been in the first place.
    If that isn’t enough private landlords on the whole will not accept people on housing benefit, pets, smokers ect ect ect!
    Why don’t they build more social housing?
    Oh yes! Their Rachman private landlord mates wouldn’t like it!

  • Social Scouser January 28, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    Silly idea this bedroom tax, what next toilet tax?.

  • GEOFF REYNOLDS January 28, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    What next? loft tax?shed tax?tent tax? These bastards are taking the piss big style! Nobody should have the right to interfere with how a person lives. its way beyond the remit of common decency to impose these draconian standards on the less well off, or anybody for that matter.
    They swan around in big fancy cars, living in big fancy mansions, swilling expensive cocktails and slurping down food that you or me would find hard to pronounce, never mind eat.
    My logic is that they number a few whilst we number a lot. Being the dominant force we become the ones to be reckoned with.
    United in pursuit of a common goal we become much stronger and carry a voice that will be heard from the rooftops.
    You can only kick a dog for so long till it bites back. That time is drawing near, its put up or shut up time……
    A concerted front is a strong front. They started the fight but we will finish it. Good always reigns over evil, history shows this.
    With so much hate in the country, who knows what could happen. All their dirty little secrets and ill conceived plans are putting an indelible stain on the good people of this land. We can and will erase it ………

    • sarah February 10, 2013 at 10:45 pm

      Geoff dont assume that everyone who is affected by this bedroom tax has a low level of education, thats just silly, i resent the fact that you think because im affected by this bedroom tax and cant afford fancy food, that i wouldnt be able to pronounce wht it is ther eating. dont alienate yourself from the very people who you want to stand up and fight with you.

  • Alan Moore January 30, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    I reckon Cameron, Osbourne and the rest of the toffs are probably under occupying their substantial mansions, so I think it may be a better idea to force them to take in the homeless and less well off who are in cramped bad social housing to set a good example to the rest of us. Before the revolution kicks off that is…..

  • jackie sallis January 31, 2013 at 2:33 am

    I think we should fight this and go to the european court of human rights.

  • J Crossley January 31, 2013 at 11:27 am

    What about the sentence “this is the amount the law says you need to live on” on the letter stating what you are entitled to? This amount will go down if BT is to paid out of it so does the amount of social security make it back up the the lawful amount? No? Didn’t think so. People should be taking up arms and forming an army to fight this stupid Government who think it is alright to rob the poor, split up families and communities and cause social isolation and mayhem whilst they live in mansions and live well. Are they not supposed to look after the people of their country? They only look after themselves and those that have money and at the expense of those who don’t. Just who do they think they are? Get them out.

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