Benefit cuts ‘putting thousands in debt’

Recent housing benefit cuts in the UK has led to thousands of households spiralling into debt in Merseyside.

People of working age who were in soci…

Recent housing benefit cuts in the UK has led to thousands of households spiralling into debt in Merseyside.

People of working age who were in social housing with spare bedrooms had their benefit reduced by an average of £14 per week from April 1st, according to a BBC report. 

In order to tackle the persistent overcrowding situation in the country, government ministers brought in changes to the benefits tenants with spare rooms received in April.

It is an attempt to free up larger houses by encouraging those who live in a property with more bedrooms than is required to move to a smaller house.

Now, 100 days after the implementation of the modifications, which have been dubbed the 'bedroom tax', the National Housing Federation said it has forced 14,000 tenants in one of the poorest areas of the nation into rent arrears.

The group collected data from 18 social landlords in Merseyside, which collectively own 91 per cent of all the 130,000 housing association homes in the area.

Results revealed a key problem, with an estimated 26,500 homes being affected by the change, but as a result of a shortage in smaller buildings, only 155 were able to downsize into another housing association property.

David Orr, the federation's chief executive, told the news provider: "The fact is there aren't enough smaller social homes in Merseyside for people to avoid the bedroom tax, even if they wanted to move."

He went on to say the various housing associations had warned the government from the very beginning that the changes would not work and that families would face severe financial hardship as a result.

The government has said the reforms to benefits are essential in the economic recovery.

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions confirmed the coalition is giving local councils £150 million Discretionary Housing Payment funding this year to support vulnerable people.

The changes to the housing benefit have left the finances of many households in the UK squeezed. As inflation continues to rise, people are finding it more difficult to pay for their daily living expenses and are falling into higher levels of debt.

By James Francis 

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