A housing association has said its hard-pressed tenants have racked up £45,000 in arrears due to the bedroom tax.
Hyndburn Homes said rent arrears are up by ten per cent due to the tax, with many families left in an ‘impossible position’ by the charge and struggling to make ends meet.
Of the 497 homes in Hyndburn affected by the bedroom tax, 320 are Hyndburn Homes properties.
The association has said it is now dealing with arrears of £45,000 due to the tax.
Kim Smith, head of Neighbourhood Services at Hyndburn Homes, said: “The Government’s bedroom tax has left lots of customers in an impossible position, including those working on low incomes struggling to make ends meet. Many tenants are struggling to pay and are unable to move because of a severe shortage of smaller homes across the borough.
“We’ve supported almost 60 people to apply for Discretionary Housing Payments to help them cover the bedroom tax.
“We remain very concerned about the impact of the bedroom tax, we think it’s deeply unfair.”
Hyndburn Homes’ announcement came in light of new research from the National Housing Federation (NHF) which revealed that two-thirds of households affected by the tax are in rent arrears.
Demand for Discretionary Housing Payments – which are on the rise in Hyndburn – are up 302 per cent on average in the North West.
Rob Warm, head of external affairs and member relations at the NHF, said: “Many are at risk of being evicted because they simply can’t find the extra money to pay their rent. Housing associations are doing all they can but as not-for-profit organisations they can’t simply write off unpaid rent.”
Coun Clare Pritchard, Hyndburn council’s portfolio holder for housing, slammed the tax. She said: “I think the tax is really unfair and is having a devastating effect on families. If I could abolish it tomorrow, I would.”
Conservative group leader, councillor Peter Britcliffe said: “Obviously the intention was to get people to move to smaller houses. Unfortunately there is not that sort of accommodation available so people are trapped. Residents affected should look into applying for a hardship grant which the government has made available to councils.”