BBC News has recently reported, after receiving information requested through the Freedom of Information request from 331 social housing providers, only 6% of those households who have been affected by the bedroom tax have actually moved homes.
For those of us, like myself, who work within this area of law this is not a shock. It was clear to see from the very beginning that the spare room subsidy, which is also known as the bedroom tax, was not going to deliver the outcomes which the Government promised.
In a time when there is a shortage on social housing - full stop - it is unclear to see why the basic calculations were not done. It is simple supply and demand. There are far more households who require a smaller house (one or two bedrooms) than the local authorities have to give.
You therefore end up with the situation of a tenant being affected by the bedroom tax and wanting to move, is being told by their landlord that not only do they not have anywhere to move them, furthermore they will still be subjected to the bedroom tax, despite the fact they are not disputing that they will move.
This will ultimately lead to the tenant accruing arrears, which is further backed by the BBC’s analysis of the data from social housing providers which suggests that 28% of affected tenants were in rent arrears for the first time. Once the tenant is in arrears, landlords are a lot less helpful, and in the majority, will state that they can’t help the tenant to move until they reduce their arrears. In other words, a farce.
This clearly doesn’t help people to move at all, it in fact can trap people which I have blogged about before in Catch 22 – bedroom tax, backing you into a corner.
Some readers may think I am completely against the bedroom tax, but this is not the case. But I do think that it has been implemented impractically and unfairly onto some groups of people more then others. My worry is that should any changes be implemented regarding how this is rolled out it may be a rather too little too late.
By Victoria Jordan, trainee solicitor in the housing law team
If you find yourself in a situation like this, or find that your landlord is taking you to court, then please contact us for specialised housing advice.