Fewer than one in 10 of a housing associations’ bedroom tax-affected tenants have moved to avoid the penalty.
Aragon Housing Association, which owns 6,500 homes, published a report on Tuesday looking at the first three months of the tax. The bedroom tax, under which social tenants of working age have their housing benefit cut if they are deemed to have spare rooms, came into force on 1 April.
The report, entitled Should I stay or should I go: 100 days of the bedroom tax, revealed only 41 of the 461 Aragon tenants affected have downsized to avoid the penalty.
The report said: ‘Our tenants have been unable to move to smaller properties as there is a lack of suitable properties.’
Aragon’s rent arrears have increased by more than £7,777 in the first 12 weeks of the tax, an increase of 9 per cent.
The findings also show 107 of the affected tenants have had their homes adapted to help them cope with disabilities. However, only 40 have been awarded discretionary housing payments to help them with their housing costs.
Aileen Evans, managing director of Aragon, said: ‘This has had a huge impact on many of our most vulnerable tenants and we are seeing levels of arrears rise directly as a result of the change in the housing benefit rules.
‘We have taken on more staff to try and support our most vulnerable customers to help them manage their money, help them back into work and advise them on their options.
’Their work has revealed that hard-up tenants are worrying about how to feed and clothe their families while struggling to meet the shortfall in their rent.’