Housing officers have been advised to cover up uniforms and badges outside of working hours through fear of bedroom tax protestors taking matters into their own hands. Knowsley Housing Trust (KHT), owner of around 14,000 homes in Merseyside issued a safety warning to almost 500 staff last week.
A spokesperson said: "Due to the number of protests there have been in the region about the bedroom tax and the intensity of feeling around evictions, we have advised staff to take extra precautions to minimise risk if they are wearing KHT uniforms or badges outside work hours.’
This follows the news last month of a man being charged with three counts of attempted murder in Brixton. In that case two housing officers were shot by a tenant during an eviction.
So it appears that housing officers are among those paying the price for the Government's efforts to cut the housing benefit bill.
Thousands of tenants have been affected by the changes which came into force in April this year. We are finding that the majority of possession proceedings in the courts for rent arrears relate to the bedroom tax. The discretionary pots allocated for payments to assist those most vulnerable have been exhausted. Tenants with previous excellent payment records are finding themselves simply unable to afford their rent as food banks are seeing an increase in demand. Meanwhile tenants looking to downsize to the smaller properties they are able to afford are being told there are no properties available.
It seems the reality of the bedroom tax is housing officers in danger and tenants on the streets.
By Joanne Murray, housing law team