Report claims Bedroom tax has failed to solve under-occupancy

The government’s controversial bedroom tax has failed to ease under-occupancy in the social housing sector, its main aim, a report has revealed.

The 'Here and There: One year of the Bedroom Tax' report, composed by six housing associations, is the first to analyse a complete year’s data on the impact the under-occupancy policy has had on tenants.

It has revealed that nearly three quarters of people who were affected have been unable to downsize to escape it because of a shortage of smaller homes, and that housing associations are struggling to let larger homes as demand has plummeted.

Alan Humphreys, chief executive of Grand Union Housing Group, said: “The fact remains that nearly three quarters of people who were affected by the bedroom tax remain unable to downsize because of a chronic shortage of smaller homes.

“We are still seeing how the bedroom tax has had a disproportionate impact on a small number of our tenants. 

“That does not achieve what the government set out to do, which was to make better use of the housing stock, and to ease over-crowding in our areas, and indicates that there is perhaps not the demand from larger families.”

The report from Aragon Housing Association, South Northants Homes, both part of GUHG, Aldwyck Housing Group, Daventry District Housing, Soha and Howard Cottage Housing Association, reveals that arrears among affected tenants rose initially but steadied after housing associations invested in extra staff to support tenants with money and benefits advice.

It also reveals a widespread ‘postcode lottery’ in how local authorities allocate support payments through discretionary housing payments.