Bedroom tax pushes 20% of Newham council tenants into arrears

Nearly 20 per cent of council tenants have been pushed into arrears by the bedroom tax, new figures show.

Of the 1,266 households that have been affected in Newham since its introduction in April, 247 are falling behind on rent payments.

The bedroom tax penalises council tenants if they have a ‘spare’ bedroom by reducing their housing benefit by 14 per cent or 25 per cent, depending on the number of spare bedrooms.

The research released on Thursday by campaign group False Economy highlights neighbouring borough Barking and Dagenham as having the highest number of council tenants in arrears with 638 households.

In Lambeth, South London, there is the highest number of people affected by bedroom tax but only 11 per cent are in arrears.

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Meanwhile Redbridge has 335 households affected, but 45 per cent of them are in arrears.

False Economy warns that with emergency funding from councils rapidly drying up, the situation is likely to get far worse over the coming months.

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Campaign manager Clifford Singer said: “These figures show once again the predictable chaos that has resulted from the hated bedroom tax. Together with the raft of other benefits cuts the government has forced through both this year and previously, the bedroom tax is driving tenants and families who were just making ends meet into arrears and pushing those who were already struggling with the cost of living into a full-blown crisis.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “The removal of the spare-room subsidy is a necessary reform to return fairness to housing benefit. Even after the reform we pay over 80 per cent of most claimants’ housing benefit – but the taxpayer can no longer afford to pay for people to live in properties larger than they need. It is right that people contribute to these costs, just as private renters do.”

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