Even the government admits the bedroom tax isn’t working

Reposted from the Mirror on line

The DWP quietly published an interim report into the removal of the spare room subsidy (colloquially known as the “bedroom tax”) and it paints a grim picture of the reality behind the headlines.

Very few people have downsized, which was a key aim of the policy

4.5 %
of people affected by the removal of the spare room subsidy have downsized since the implementation of the policy

It turns out that many people actually need their spare room for health reasons or to enable them to effectively care for unwell spouses or family members. In one case the report quoted from a parent explaining why their young son needed the so-called “spare room”:

[We needed the extra room] because he was sleeping in the same bedroom as his great granddad, who is incontinent, deaf, blind, had cancer. He just couldn’t function as a child, he couldn’t play; he couldn’t do anything

Households with disabled people are more likely to be affected

Seven in 10 households affected reported that someone in the household had a disability. These households were also much more likely to find it difficult to obtain Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) – a measure designed to help the most vulnerable deal with the cut in Housing Benefit.

DHPs are means-tested, so many households with disabled people were not eligible because their eligibility for the Disability Living Allowance meant that their income was generally higher than households without disabled people.

Lazy people on Housing Benefit is a myth

Contrary to popular belief, the subsidy has affected people who have spent most if not all of their lives working. In fact, it’s the working poor who are being let down by the policy, with65% reporting that they have always been or are mostly in paid employment since leaving school.

Few claimants successfully found work or more hours

Iain Duncan Smith earlier this year:

If you want to live in a home like that, then we think you should pay a little bit more if that’s your choice and to that end go and find more hours of work – it isn’t that many more hours.

Yet the report explains that many people had been trying and struggling to do just that.

87 %
of people looking to secure work or secure better paid employment were unsuccessful

The report explains that there are significant barriers that claimants do not have much control over, which means they can’t reasonably be expected to just find work like Iain Duncan Smith would like:

Most reported major barriers to finding work or extra hours including caring responsibilities, for example of elderly parents or young children; scarcity of jobs in the local area; and constraints on employers in increasing hoursgiven the recession.

Nearly a third of people fell into arrears after the bedroom tax was implemented

29% of people affected by the policy currently in arrears were not in arrears the year previously, meaning that the spare room subsidy had drastically affected their ability to pay their rent.

In fact, 80% of people surveyed said that they now find it difficult to pay their rent.

57 %
said they were cutting back on household essentials.

Lots of people reported borrowing as a response to the cut in Housing Benefit – some from Pay Day Loans, some from family, and others on their credit cards. Some said they were cutting back on energy bills and food budgets, sometimes “remaining cold at home to reduce bills or regularly skipping meals”.

Concerned social landlords have in some cases had to pay for food for tenants because they simply cannot afford to pay the shortfall:

We have fed people who have come into our office for assistance; and staff have gone and purchased food for people from their own pockets; these are not families with low levels of literacy or addiction issues, or not willing to work.

As a result, people are skipping meals and freezing in their homes

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