Bedroom tax leaves thousands of tenants behind with rent

Kevin Dodd WDH
Kevin Dodd WDH

Thousands of tenants are falling behind with their rent after housing benefit was cut for people who have spare rooms.

More than 2,000 social housing tenants hit by the government’s so-called bedroom tax have failed to pay a shortfall in their rent since the policy came into force on April 1.

More than 5,000 Wakefield and District Housing (WDH) tenants are losing benefits because of the policy – and 42 per cent of them are in rent arrears.

The bedroom tax cuts housing benefit by an average of £14 per week for working-age people who are deemed to be “under-occupying” their homes.

Tenants affected are encouraged to look for smaller properties, but WDH, which has 20,000 people on its waiting list, has just a handful of one-bed flats available.

Kevin Dodd, WDH’s chief executive, said: “The ‘bedroom tax’, or the spare room subsidy, is already having an impact on WDH tenants.

“Since it was introduced more than 2,000 of the 5,000 affected tenants have not paid all their rent and other charges due.”

In March, WDH revealed that tenants on a government pilot scheme which pays benefits straight to the claimant instead of the landlord had already run up arrears of £180,000.

It is feared the direct payments system, part of the government’s Universal Credit, will see tenants with cash problems spend their housing benefit paying off other debts instead of the rent.

WDH estimated that extending the scheme to all its tenants, along with other cuts to benefits, would cost the organisation £10m a year.

Mr Dodd said any WDH tenants who are affected by welfare reforms can contact them on 01977 788825.”