Bedroom tax could "cost more than it saves"
THE government’s controversial “bedroom tax” could end up costing more than it saves, Bolton housing bosses claim.
And government demands to build larger properties means there is no immediate solution to the chronic shortage of one bedroom homes.
Introduced in April, the underoccupancy charge reduces housing benefit for tenants in social housing if their property is deemed too big for their needs.
The government says the move will “reintroduce fairness” into the system and free up larger properties for families currently languishing on waiting lists.
But opponents have branded the charge “bedroom tax” and claim it hits the poorest and most vulnerable hardest.
Bolton’s biggest social landlord Bolton at Home has announced a new “no homelessness” policy, which would guarantee tenants who are in arrears because if the charge a new home.
But chiefs have hit out at the charge itself, claiming it could end up costing more than it saves.
Ian Ankers, director of housing services at Bolton at Home, said there had been a case where a tenant had been downsized from a £75-a-week property to a private rented home costing £95-a-week.
He added: “The bedroom tax is probably going to cost more than it saves.
“It’s taking £1.5 million a year out of tenants’ money, “And when you consider things like rehousing people and the disruption of downsizing, there’s growing evidence it’s going to put the cost of housing benefit up not down.”
A major criticism levelled at the policy by opponents is a lack of available properties for people to downsize, particularly one bedroom homes.
But Jon Lord, chief executive at Bolton at Home, said in the past the government had placed an emphasis on building larger properties.
He added: “We put our last round of bids in for new build two-and-a-half years ago.
“The main standard they expected to see was two bedrooms, if we’d gone in with one bedroom we’d have been unsuccessful.
“This is a three year programme where we’re building mainly two bedroom properties.”
Mr Ankers added: “Housing stock is getting squeezed because people are desperate to downsize.”
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