Rent arrears in Merseyside increase after introduction of the bedroom tax

October 3rd, 2013 - No Comments

‘Rent arrears up £2.2m six months after bedroom tax introduced’

“Rent arrears in Merseyside have spiralled six months after the introduction of the government’s controversial bedroom tax, a survey of social landlords has found.  Twelve Merseyside housing associations have released figures showing a £2.2 million increase in arrears compared to the corresponding period last year. The data also shows empty properties have increased by 29 per cent to 1,956 and the average time it takes to re-let an empty property has jumped from 28 to 38 days – resulting in a loss of rent to landlords of £616,662 per month.”

The article above is trying to create a clear causal link between the introduction of the bedroom tax, and the increase in arrears. Without looking thoroughly into the raw data, it’s hard to draw the same conclusion. However, we can say that it seems that a lot of people are hesitant to move house for fear of being hit by the ‘bedroom tax’.

The increase in arrears could be exacerbated by the new tax, we can’t say for certain whether these people would be in arrears regardless of the tax. There are even some cases of people withholding the payment as a form of protest. It seems evident that the introduction of the bedroom tax and a rise in arrears will not be a black and white issue.

However, we do believe that for the ‘bedroom tax’ to be an effective weapon to ensure there isn’t a surplus of empty bedrooms in social housing; the government will need to consider the following:

  • There needs to be an increase in the amount of social housing available
  • There needs to be more variety in the social housing, to ensure there is adequate shelter for the elderly, for couples, and for families of varying sizes.
  • There needs to be more room for local councils to use discretion when deciding what constitutes a bedroom, in terms of size and functionality.