Monday, 02 March 2015

Just 1 per cent of affected tenants have so far downsized, survey reveals

Tenants choose to stay and pay bedroom tax

Just 1 per cent of households affected by the government’s ‘bedroom tax’ have moved home to avoid the controversial under-occupancy charge, which comes into effect on Monday.

An exclusive Inside Housing survey of 73 social landlords across Great Britain reveals of 161,029 households affected, just 1,936 have moved to avoid the penalty so far, meaning 99 per cent will be hit from 1 April.

Under the policy, social housing tenants of working age will have their benefit cut if they are deemed to have spare bedrooms.

The survey, which provides the first comprehensive picture of how the bedroom tax will impact landlords, shows 46 per cent of households (74,649), have opted to stay put and try to cover the resulting shortfall in their benefit.

Another 21,484 affected tenants (13 per cent) are willing to move house to avoid the charge but have yet to do so. This finding suggests there is a shortage of homes for tenants to move into - meaning some people will have no choice but to pay the penalty.

National Housing Federation estimates suggest there are 180,000 households under-occupying two-bedroom homes but just 70,000 properties for them to downsize into.

A Department for Work and Pensions impact assessment published in February 2012 said the policy’s projected saving of £500 million pounds per year by 2015 was based on an assumption of ‘little tenant mobility’.


Most landlords said the majority of tenants want to stay in their homes. Fife Housing Association said 275 (57 per cent) of its 480 affected households want to remain in their homes, while Liverpool Mutual Homes said 80 per cent of its 2,019 affected households do not want to move.

North Tyneside Council said 73 per cent of affected households it has contacted expect to stay in their homes.

Other landlords expect the number of households wanting to move to increase once the policy kicks in and its full impact is felt.

Affinity Sutton said 15 per cent of its 4,500 affected households initially wanted to move, but this number is now increasing.

Sam Lister, policy and practice officer at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: ‘Most people don’t want to move, it is their home and they will try and make ends meet.’

Other landlords surveyed were still attempting to find out what their tenants are likely to do just days before the policy comes into force.

The Guinness Partnership is still trying to identify people who may be affected while Kettering Council plans to visit those affected this week to see whether they want to move.

The survey also found that landlords expect the policy to cost them around £40 million a year in arrears and other costs associated with the bedroom tax, such as administration costs and rent collection.

The average weekly penalty for the 161,029 affected households was £14.92, higher than the average £14 a week estimated by the government.

What the survey revealed

161,029 number of households affected by the bedroom tax which are owned and managed by 73 social landlords surveyed by Inside Housing

1,936 number of households surveyed that have so far moved to avoid paying the bedroom tax (1 per cent)

74,649 number of households that have opted to stay and pay the under-occupation penalty from 1 April (46 per cent)

21,484 number of households that are willing to move but have not yet done so (13 per cent)

£40 million amount the bedroom tax will cost the 73 surveyed landlords in rent arrears and other associated costs each financial year

£14.92 average weekly benefit cut for the affected households

11 number of housing associations surveyed (28 per cent) that have ruled out using ground 8 possession proceedings to evict tenants in arrears as a result of the bedroom tax

Readers' comments (27)

  • michael barratt

    A man's (women's) home is his castle has apparently only meaning for middle England and is an out of reach aspiration for those who's every day is a struggle.

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  • Daedalus

    michael barratt | 28/03/2013 5:10 am

    And your point is?

    A Ferrari is out of range for me, as is an expensive holiday.

    Why can't we invent a political system where everybody get treated exactly the same and get exactly the same chattels? Oh yes, it is called communism, and it has already failed in so many places.

    The society we live in is one where you accumulate wealth in order to get the benefits you want in life, with safety nets for items such as food and having a roof over ones head. To go beyond these basics, you need the means of purchasing them.

    If everybody was treated exactly the same no matter what their circumstances you have anarchy. Who would be a dustbin man, or a sewer cleaner if they would be treated just as well without working?

    Get real.

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  • Many people who are not on benefits downsize when they either cannot afford, or do not need a larger house. It is not unreasonable, therefore, to expect people on benefit to downsize when they no longer need a large property. Indeed, if the state is paying the bill, it is only fair that people who no longer need a larger property should give it up if there are families in need of it, who are living in an overcrowded property because of lack of availability of a larger one. So the principle behind this is sound. But it is the way it is applied that is the problem: if you can't find a suitable smaller property into which to move, then you are stuffed; if the change in circumstances is short term, then you should not be forced to move - moving house is extremely stressful and not without expense; and there are frequently sound reasons why a family might need a larger house than a simple headcount would suggest.

    This policy is, like most of Duncan Smith's policies, a "blunt instrument". What we need is a system that looks at each individual case, taking into account all relevant circumstances, and then works with the claimants to ensure that, if a move is appropriate, they are able to do so in an orderly fashion without anyone suffering financial or other hardship in the process.

    It seems illogical to apply this only to people of working age. In the non-benefit funded sector, it is usually after retirement that people choose to downsize. It is usually the elderly who no longer need a house that was the right size for them when they had children living with them. They should, therefore, be encouraged to do the same when the state is paying for it; and to liberate larger houses for growing families.

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  • michael barratt

    Daedalus you apparently equate the economic battlers having security tenure in respect to their home as their aspiring to owning a Ferrari? I fear that you and your kind are flying too close to the sun discover that in bashing the poor you will all come a cropper.

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  • Maria Judge

    Please sign our Petition


    Please come to to the rally in London go and see

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  • Chris

    This is disgusting IH - your survey was not measuring choice, yet your article uses the data to suggest tenants are choosing to be taxed by this government.

    You have asked the landlords for their opinion - but not the tenants for the facts.

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  • Patricia Cross

    High-rise flats in Nottingham will be classified as one-bedroom, even those with two bedrooms, in preparation for changes to housing benefit.

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  • Colin Mcculloch

    Well said Chris.

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  • Control has many forms!!!!!

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  • Chris

    So does Universal Credit!

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