Bedroom tax puts hundreds into debt in Worcestershire

Bedroom tax puts hundreds into debt in Worcestershire

Bedroom tax puts hundreds into debt in Worcestershire

First published in News Droitwich Advertiser: Tom Edwards Exclusive by , Political Reporter

THE devastating impact of the bedroom tax can today be laid bare in Worcestershire - with hundreds of people in mounting debt and at risk of losing their homes.

Your Worcester News can reveal hard-hitting data showing:

- 738 households have been stung by it in south Worcestershire and of those, a staggering 62 per cent are piling on debt

- Just 32 people have moved house, one of the lowest figures in the UK

- In Worcester 119 people have got into so much debt that housing chiefs have resorted to sending them "possession orders", a warning legal action could be taken to kick them out

- Fortis Housing, the biggest provider of social rented homes in the county, says it has people "slipping further and further into arrears" as a direct result of the policy

- Your Worcester News has spoken to people affected by it who say they are cutting out essentials like food just to get by

The findings come just two days after a new Government report suggested the bedroom tax, officially known as the spare room study, has failed in one of its key aims of moving people out of larger homes.

Since April last year social housing tenants get a reduced housing benefit payment for any spare bedrooms.

The reduction is 14 per cent for one bedroom or 25 per cent for two, with the householder asked to pay the difference or downsize.

Of the 738 residents living in Fortis Housing or Rooftop Housing-owned properties to be hit by it, 454 are currently in debt.

The homes are right across south Worcestershire including Worcester, Malvern, Pershore, Droitwich and Evesham.

The situation is so acute, bosses at Fortis have recently written to 119 persistent non-payers to serve them with Notice Seeking Possession (NOPS) orders.

It means they have to pay their escalating debts, which in some cases has climbed to hundreds of pounds, or face losing their home via court action.

Iain Harkess, head of operations at Fortis, said: "We knew the spare room subsidy would hit some of our customers very hard so right at the start we invested time, effort and money in helping them to understand how it would impact on them.

"Despite this, we still have many customers who are unable to meet the additional demand on their already strained budgets and as a result, are slipping further and further into arrears.

"We are doing all we can to support them through this and avoid the risk of them losing their home."

The Government report, released this week from the Department for Work and Pensions, showed how 59 per cent of those hit by the tax – 300,000 tenants – are in rent arrears nationally.

Only 4.5 per cent of the 570,000 hit by it across the UK have moved to a smaller property, a tally which matches that of Worcestershire.

'EVERY DAY IS A STRUGGLE' - WAR VETERAN HITS OUT

FALKLANDS veteran Doug Padgett, of Hathaway Close in Dines Green is just one Worcester victim of the bedroom tax.

The 57-year-old has one spare bedroom in his flat, and as a single parent needs it so his daughter Connie, 14, can go over to stay.

He has refused to move out because he says he needs to have a room for her, and because of that has been in mounting debt.

His housing benefit was slashed 14 per cent last year and since then he's been making extra cutbacks to get by, but it hasn't stopped the debts.

His reduction meant he needed to find around £50 extra per month, and the debt had climbed to more than £250 before it was written off in April after a gift from the Royal British Legion.

But his debts have already kicked in again, despite an award of a discretionary housing award which has reduced his monthly deficit to around £25 a month.

"People ask me 'can you afford it' and my response is 'how can I afford not too pay'," said Mr Padgett, who is unemployed and now suffers from post traumatic stress disorder.

"I need this house for my daughter, she spends 50 per cent of her time with me so I must have that room.

"I have cut down on what I eat, that's the easy one - you can get bags of rice for buttons, but it's not very nourishing.

"It is difficult. I've been very fortunate because the Royal British Legion has helped me out and I've got a discretionary housing award, but I'm back in debt.

"It's about time people who run this country learned it's entirely possible to have a revolution."

Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has defended it, saying his department is "on track" to have saved over £6 billion by next April.

The Government also says just one fifth of people affected by it have asked to move to smaller homes, and that some of those in debt for rent arrears would have been so even without the spare room subsidy kicking in.

Worcester MP Robin Walker said: "I don't think the basic principle of it is wrong, people should not get extra subsidy for a spare room they are not using.

"There are families living in overcrowded accommodation that we need to help."

Comments (10)

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5:25pm Mon 4 Aug 14

pudniw_gib says...

Another Tory attack on the poor and vulnerable. Just like the poll tax previously and the one sided policies this disgusting government promote as the only way.
Another Tory attack on the poor and vulnerable. Just like the poll tax previously and the one sided policies this disgusting government promote as the only way. pudniw_gib
  • Score: 8

6:30pm Mon 4 Aug 14

grumpy woman says...

Why should I pay for someone to have a spare room? Can't afford one myself. Get a lodger.
Why should I pay for someone to have a spare room? Can't afford one myself. Get a lodger. grumpy woman
  • Score: -2

8:03pm Mon 4 Aug 14

presterjohn says...

I fully support the bedroom tax but it is madness to charge for a room if a tenant has agreed to move to a smaller home but has then been told their are none to move to. That is a con. Charge those that refuse to move not those that agree and then are not offered the required alternative.
I fully support the bedroom tax but it is madness to charge for a room if a tenant has agreed to move to a smaller home but has then been told their are none to move to. That is a con. Charge those that refuse to move not those that agree and then are not offered the required alternative. presterjohn
  • Score: 19

10:39pm Mon 4 Aug 14

Hugh Wattmate says...

Many people can't move its not that they won't. Not enough properties are one reason. Another is housing thats been adapted. Or having children equal amounts as the child's mother or farther.

Would you want your kid to grow up sleeping on the couch?

If you were disabled with a support network around you and adaptations made to your house, would you move?

If you were suffering mental illness would the stress of this or moving help you?

The idea is sound there is a problem something needs to be done. But there need to be a few more exceptions to the bedroom tax.

It's just rather nasty to many in need at the moment. It's not just unfair on the house occupant but also possibly there children and there family (if they need to live close for health reasons.)

Can't wait for it to be scrapped it's going to happen it is just a matter of when. Even Lib Dems are saying they are wrong and Labour is forcing stuff through for another vote. Lib Dems will likely vote with Labour and scrap it soon hopefully. Or at least change it.
Many people can't move its not that they won't. Not enough properties are one reason. Another is housing thats been adapted. Or having children equal amounts as the child's mother or farther. Would you want your kid to grow up sleeping on the couch? If you were disabled with a support network around you and adaptations made to your house, would you move? If you were suffering mental illness would the stress of this or moving help you? The idea is sound there is a problem something needs to be done. But there need to be a few more exceptions to the bedroom tax. It's just rather nasty to many in need at the moment. It's not just unfair on the house occupant but also possibly there children and there family (if they need to live close for health reasons.) Can't wait for it to be scrapped it's going to happen it is just a matter of when. Even Lib Dems are saying they are wrong and Labour is forcing stuff through for another vote. Lib Dems will likely vote with Labour and scrap it soon hopefully. Or at least change it. Hugh Wattmate
  • Score: 6

12:28am Tue 5 Aug 14

Jabbadad says...

Yes there are thousands in social housing across the country who are spiralling into debt over the BERDROOM TAX, but the biggest problem has arisen from the Welfare Reform bill, when Iain Ducan Smith decided to pay the Housing Benifits to the Tenants and not the Landlords as before. Which meant that those on Housing Benefits were having a Giro come through the post with their normal allowances plus A MONTHS RENT of several Hundreds or Thousands of pounds in some cases, with Iain Duncan Smith expecting them to rush to pay their rents first. WHAT A JOKE is this man for real?
To have the rent benefits paid directly to the landlords was in very many cases the only way that the landlords got paid.
So who is suffering,, well the social Landlords, the Tenants are getting into debt big time., and Iain Duncan Smith can't see the huge numbers of evictions which are already being applied for, and that he has NO KNOWLEDGE of what he is responsible for or the man is an IDIOT.
Take your pick?
Yes there are thousands in social housing across the country who are spiralling into debt over the BERDROOM TAX, but the biggest problem has arisen from the Welfare Reform bill, when Iain Ducan Smith decided to pay the Housing Benifits to the Tenants and not the Landlords as before. Which meant that those on Housing Benefits were having a Giro come through the post with their normal allowances plus A MONTHS RENT of several Hundreds or Thousands of pounds in some cases, with Iain Duncan Smith expecting them to rush to pay their rents first. WHAT A JOKE is this man for real? To have the rent benefits paid directly to the landlords was in very many cases the only way that the landlords got paid. So who is suffering,, well the social Landlords, the Tenants are getting into debt big time., and Iain Duncan Smith can't see the huge numbers of evictions which are already being applied for, and that he has NO KNOWLEDGE of what he is responsible for or the man is an IDIOT. Take your pick? Jabbadad
  • Score: 3

9:26am Tue 5 Aug 14

Arthur Blenkinsop says...

The idea is good, just the implementation needs sorting. Don't forget, these houses are not 'their' houses. They are social housing, built and paid for by the taxpayer. So why should the taxpayer supplement occupiers for rooms that, in all fairness, a good deal of them don't need? Those that need an extra room, ie. disable or elderly for equipment or a carer, or separated parents who need a room for the children to stay when it's 'their weekend', should be exempt. But for those who have no need for an extra room, why shouldn't they rent it out to make up the rent or move to a smaller property when available? If i get short on my mortgage repayments, no one bails me out, i have to rent out a room.
The idea is good, just the implementation needs sorting. Don't forget, these houses are not 'their' houses. They are social housing, built and paid for by the taxpayer. So why should the taxpayer supplement occupiers for rooms that, in all fairness, a good deal of them don't need? Those that need an extra room, ie. disable or elderly for equipment or a carer, or separated parents who need a room for the children to stay when it's 'their weekend', should be exempt. But for those who have no need for an extra room, why shouldn't they rent it out to make up the rent or move to a smaller property when available? If i get short on my mortgage repayments, no one bails me out, i have to rent out a room. Arthur Blenkinsop
  • Score: 6

10:26am Tue 5 Aug 14

Casmal says...

I agree with a lot of the above comments, particularly Hugh Wattmate. The idea is good, but the way it is implemented is not. So many face evictions and then what? Where do they go? Whose financial responsibility do they become? And won't the options end up costing the taxpayer more in the long run?
I agree with a lot of the above comments, particularly Hugh Wattmate. The idea is good, but the way it is implemented is not. So many face evictions and then what? Where do they go? Whose financial responsibility do they become? And won't the options end up costing the taxpayer more in the long run? Casmal
  • Score: 9

2:51pm Tue 5 Aug 14

The Moan says...

Firstly what gets up my nose more than anything is the opinion that the tax payer paid for building these houses. In many cases that is simply false. My family is a working tax paying family like the majority in this country yet we cannot afford to buy, priced out of the market. Then you get the private rent with absolutely no security, short term housing in effect. Anyone can become a victim of the bedroom tax no ones jobs are assured. When your given the minimum to live off how are you supposed to fund the shortfall. The problem lies in the fact there is not enough good sized housing out there. Social housing was sold off when it shouldn't have been and not enough family homes were built to replace it. To point out that tennants dont own their properties is one thing but its still their place to call home. Ok struggling to meet a mortgage payment is hard, its your choice and you will reap the benefit in the end. Count yourself lucky you have been fortunate enough to be able to buy.
Firstly what gets up my nose more than anything is the opinion that the tax payer paid for building these houses. In many cases that is simply false. My family is a working tax paying family like the majority in this country yet we cannot afford to buy, priced out of the market. Then you get the private rent with absolutely no security, short term housing in effect. Anyone can become a victim of the bedroom tax no ones jobs are assured. When your given the minimum to live off how are you supposed to fund the shortfall. The problem lies in the fact there is not enough good sized housing out there. Social housing was sold off when it shouldn't have been and not enough family homes were built to replace it. To point out that tennants dont own their properties is one thing but its still their place to call home. Ok struggling to meet a mortgage payment is hard, its your choice and you will reap the benefit in the end. Count yourself lucky you have been fortunate enough to be able to buy. The Moan
  • Score: 4

3:01pm Tue 5 Aug 14

The Moan says...

When you look at most new housing developments the social housing sticks out like a sore thumb. Pushed together and basic. I don't agree many are paid for by the tax payer. Housing associations are not owned by the tax payer and not all rent payments are from benefit. Mine is earned and paid for from hard graft. Most of these houses are no where near the size and quality of private housing to start with. The policy is a joke. Effectively kicking the people at the bottom who didn't cause the housing shortage or our countries financial woes. Its easy to blame the weaker man. Social cleansing is alive and well in the uk.
When you look at most new housing developments the social housing sticks out like a sore thumb. Pushed together and basic. I don't agree many are paid for by the tax payer. Housing associations are not owned by the tax payer and not all rent payments are from benefit. Mine is earned and paid for from hard graft. Most of these houses are no where near the size and quality of private housing to start with. The policy is a joke. Effectively kicking the people at the bottom who didn't cause the housing shortage or our countries financial woes. Its easy to blame the weaker man. Social cleansing is alive and well in the uk. The Moan
  • Score: 5

6:45pm Tue 5 Aug 14

obidanshinobi says...

As always the poor have to pay for the rich's mistakes.
Classic Tory government.
As always the poor have to pay for the rich's mistakes. Classic Tory government. obidanshinobi
  • Score: 5

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