Tuesday, 21 April 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’.

Graph

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

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