Councillors representing 36 local authorities have urged the government to abolish its controversial bedroom tax policy.
At a special summit held at Manchester Town Hall last week, Labour councillors representing Bradford, Bristol, Cambridge, Birmingham, Nottingham and 31 other cities outlined the damage they believe is being caused by the under-occupancy policy.
Officials expressed concerns about families being forced to leave their homes, people getting into negative debt cycles, more people being forced into private rented accommodation – forcing benefit bills up – and the impact on local economies.
The participating councils also agreed to work with housing organisations on a set of interventions to support residents who get into financial difficulty as a result of the government's changes to housing benefit.
A detailed report on the meeting's findings will be sent to the government in the coming weeks.
Cllr Jim Battle, deputy leader of Manchester City Council, said: “The bedroom tax has been a disaster and is causing real hardship for families across the country. It is vital that the government repeals it now. It will not contribute to deficit reduction, it will send families into debt cycles and it is causing unnecessary stress to some of the most vulnerable in our society.
“We urge anyone who finds themself in financial trouble because of the bedroom tax to talk to their landlord – from housing advice, managing finances or helping with a move – they are there to help.
“The government needs to scrap this tax now and talk to local councils about more effective ways of reducing the social security bill.
“We will also work to highlight to government the damage this is causing through a detailed report in the coming weeks.”
The councils that participated in the summit were: Bassetlaw, Birmingham, Blackburn with Darwin, Bolsover, Bolton, Bradford, Bristol, Bury, Calderdale, Cambridge, Camden, Doncaster, Dudley, High Peak, Hyndburn, Kirklees, Knowsley, Lancashire, Leeds, Lewisham, Liverpool, Manchester, North East Derbyshire, North Warwickshire, Norwich, Nottingham, Oldham, Oxford, Preston, Rochdale, Rossendale, Stockport, Telford & Wrekin, Wakefield, Wolverhampton and York.