More than 14,000 families in Manchester living in social housing will face the stark choice of moving home or being plunged into hardship and debt under new Government proposals, the National Housing Federation revealed today.
Plans to penalise 120,000 families in the North West for renting a home with a ‘spare’ room will cost social housing tenants £74.88 million a year.
The North West will be one of the areas hardest hit by the Government’s proposed Welfare Reform Bill to be introduced in 2013, with 43 per cent of social housing tenants on housing benefit losing an average of £624 a year due to the ‘spare bedroom tax’.
Disabled people, foster carers and care sharers will be amongst the worst affected. Two-thirds of the people to be targeted by the changes are disabled even though many have had their homes adapted for their needs. Foster carers will also be hit as foster children occupying additional bedrooms will not count as part of the household for the purpose of housing benefit.
Under the proposals, social housing tenants with one spare bedroom will have a choice of moving or having their housing benefit cut by 13%, rising to a 23% cut for two or more spare bedrooms. It will apply to all social housing tenants of working age, in receipt of housing benefit, who are deemed to be “under occupying” their home even if they have lived there for decades.
Many people could be priced out of their homes or be forced to live in hardship and debt miles away from their family and support network as a result of the measures. In the North longstanding insufficient investment in social housing, previous urban depopulations and a lack of smaller homes has led to almost one in every two working-age social housing claimants classed as an ‘under-occupier’. Meanwhile, there are not enough smaller homes available for people to downsize into.
The National Housing Federation is calling for the Government to build more homes better suited to contemporary needs. Building smaller homes to facilitate downsizing would stimulate both the housing market and the economy.