Hundreds of social housing tenants in George Osborne’s own Tatton constituency are set to be hit by the so-called “bedroom tax”.
From April, social housing tenants claiming housing benefit will lose 14 per cent of the amount they receive for every room in their home that is deemed to be spare. And tenants with more than one spare room risk losing a quarter of their benefit.
Now one of the housing associations serving the Knutsford area in the chancellor’s political backyard is warning about the stark effects the change will have.
Tim Pinder, chief executive at Cheshire Peaks and Plains Housing Trust, told the Knutsford Guardian:
“Many of our customers are determined to stay in their homes despite the changes, but we fear this may lead to significant financial hardship.
“For some households this could mean having to choose between feeding their families and heating their homes.”
He estimates the bedroom tax will affect as many as 700 of its 5,000 residents.
Meanwhile, a second housing association in the area is predicting a rise in rent arrears as tenants struggle to make ends meet “during this difficult time”.
Stephen Porter, chief executive at Great Places Housing Group, said:
“There is no doubt that the changes… will hit some of our residents hard. Over the past year we’ve been working with them so they are prepared for the changes, which in some cases could mean downsizing to a smaller home.”
The National Housing Federation estimates 660,000 working age social tenants across the country will be affected by the bedroom tax. This represents 31 per cent of existing working age housing benefit claimants in the social housing sector. The majority have only one extra bedroom.
In cash terms, council tenants will lose, on average, £14 for their first spare room while housing association tenants will lose £16 a week, unless they downsize to a smaller property.
The fact people in the chancellor’s leafy Tatton seat – the wealthiest in the north of England – are set to be affected shows just how pervasive the impact of the bedroom tax will be.