A Freedom of Information request has revealed that rent arrears owed to Wandsworth Council have increased by £112,000 in just three months, as a direct result of the Government’s ‘Bedroom Tax’.
The Bedroom Tax, which was introduced in April this year, has meant that social housing tenants have their Housing Benefit reduced by 14 per cent for having one spare bedroom, and 25 per cent if they have two or more spare bedrooms.
Earlier this year Tooting MP, Sadiq Khan revealed that there would be 2,005 families affected by the Bedroom Tax in Wandsworth – with only ten 1 or 2 bedroom properties available for the families to downsize into.
Wandsworth Council is therefore failing to re-house families with spare rooms, which these figures show are forcing local families into debt.
The Council is also failing to release Discretionary Housing Payments – which David Cameron said would help cushion the impact of the Bedroom Tax. Out of the 2,005 families hit in Wandsworth, only seventeen payments have been made, just 10% of the requests made by local families.
Sadiq Khan MP said,
“The tax simply isn’t working – rent arrears are just piling up, the Council is losing money and tenants are struggling to make ends meet.
“These latest figures are shocking but sadly unsurprising. When I learnt earlier this year that there were only ten properties available for the more than 2,000 families hit by the Bedroom Tax, it was clear that many hard working families in Wandsworth would be forced into debt – even though many are willing to downsize.”
“I will continue to support the people affected by this unfair tax- and call on Wandsworth Council to do more to help tenants meet their funding shortfalls.”
Wandsworth Councillor, Simon Hogg said:
“Wandsworth council has been given Government money to help people struggling to pay the Bedroom Tax. It is shocking that only 17 payments been made to local families so far. The council needs to get serious about this challenge before more families are forced to leave our community.”