Rent arrears owed by families in Westminster who have been hit by the bedroom tax have increased to over £34,000 – an increase of 17.6% since the end of March.
Over 440 Westminster families have had their housing benefit reduced as a result of the bedroom tax but Westminster Council has managed to rehouse just 28 tenants, leaving over 400 of the most vulnerable families with less money to live on and with little opportunity to move somewhere cheaper.
In Westminster, 371 tenants deemed to have I bedroom too many have lost £18 a week and 72 tenants said to have 2 bedrooms too many have lost £34 a week.
Despite Westminster Conservatives’ support for the bedroom tax as a way of freeing up flats for families in need, so far the Council has moved just 28 tenants into smaller flats, leaving over 400 tenants living exactly where they are but with less money than they had before, leading to an increase in rent arrears.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Group, said;
“The bedroom tax is driving more tenants in to rent arrears and piling on the misery for hundreds of low income residents. The shortage of Council flats means that many tenants with an extra bedroom cannot move even if they want to. Yet they are still penalised financially by an £18 a week cut in their Housing Benefit because of the Council’s failure to offer them somewhere smaller and cheaper. Meanwhile rent arrears mount up putting hard-up tenants closer to the clutches of legal and illegal loan sharks and the additional misery that can create for families on the breadline.”