"These figures show once again the predictable chaos that has resulted from the hated bedroom tax" False Economy
41% of Salford's council housing tenants, or 565 people from a total 1,371, have been pushed into rents arrears by the Bedroom Tax, according to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information (FOI) by campaign group False Economy.
This is the highest rate of Bedroom Tax misery in Greater Manchester, out of councils who provided data, and compares with 38% in Bury and 32% in Manchester.
Overall, one third of council housing tenants affected by the Tax across the North West, and nearly a third of all council housing tenants across Britain (from 114 local authorities that provided data) have fallen behind in rent payments.
In Salford, both the rate and numbers could be much higher as 5,500 social housing tenants in total are affected by the Bedroom Tax, according to Salford Council figures (see previous Salford Star article – click here).
"The Bedroom Tax, combined with other social security changes such as cuts in tax credits, falling real wages and high unemployment, is forcing many already hard-pressed families even deeper into debt" states False Economy. The group could have added that rent increases in the social housing sector, plus cuts to council tax benefits have also played a huge part in bringing misery to some of the poorest people in society.
Salford Council, Salix Homes and City West, the biggest providers of social housing in the city, have still not endorsed a `No Eviction' policy. Indeed, there is currently an e-petition on Salford City Council's website that calls for the Council to "publicly state that their housing policy will be that tenants living in Salford with rent arrears acquired due to the reduction of their housing benefit (via the Welfare Reform Act, 'The Bedroom Tax') should not face eviction proceedings". To sign it click here
On the shocking Bedroom Tax arrears statistics, Clifford Singer, Campaign Manager for False Economy says: "These figures show once again the predictable chaos that has resulted from the hated Bedroom Tax. Together with the raft of other benefits cuts the government has forced through both this year and previously, the bedroom tax is driving tenants and families who were just making ends meet into arrears, and pushing those who were already struggling with the cost of living into a full-blown crisis.
"At a time when the Government is actively trying to stoke a new housing bubble for purely political ends, we have people being punished for the lack of affordable housing and the decades-long failure to invest in social and council housing" he adds "The worst part is that these figures have been collated while councils' emergency Discretionary Housing Payments are still available; they are being used up at record speed and when they run out, these figures will only get worse."
Meanwhile, those social housing tenants who dare to have a `spare bedroom' or two and want to downsize into smaller properties to avoid the 14% or 25% reduction in housing benefit, will find that there aren't enough places to move into.
Earlier this year, the Salford Star reported that City West has a waiting list of six years for a one bedroom home, while Salix stated "We cannot unfortunately guarantee that everyone who wanted a one bedroom home would be allocated one."
Throughout Salford, one and two bedroom social homes that could re-house those who might want to downsize are being demolished. This week there has been much lauding of the £650million Government approved Pendleton PFI regeneration, being created by the Pendleton Together consortium, which includes the Together Housing Group and Keepmoat, in partnership with Salford City Council. The scheme will see the demolition of more social housing properties than will be built.
In the Pendleton PFI scheme, 1,600 new homes will be built – but only 500 of those will be affordable. Meanwhile, 885, mainly social housing properties, will be demolished, including Peach Tree, Apple Tree and Pear Tree Court which are full of one and two bedroom flats. Quoting Pendleton's shocking poverty figures, Salford City Mayor Ian Stewart said: "Despite severe cuts to Salford, we're doing good things in bad times…it will bring real hope of a better future to local people." (More of this to follow…in the meantime, see previous Salford Star article - click here)
Meanwhile, after visiting the UK and hearing Pendleton resident, Dave, explaining that "I could lose my flat after Christmas, I'll be on the street…what else can I do except live on the street? I can't afford another £14 a week" , Raquel Rolnik, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, stated "My immediate recommendation is that the Bedroom Tax is abolished" (see video of her visit to Pendleton in previous Salford Star article – click here)
"The Bedroom Tax is hitting hard-pressed households who are in real need of help" says TUC Regional Secretary Lynn Collins "Disabled people who need space for their carers and families, and who have nowhere else to move, are being put at risk of debt and homelessness by the tax.
"Ministers claim the Bedroom Tax is saving money but the fact it is simply pushing up arrears shows that it is not working" she adds "Instead, councils across the North West are being forced to waste more money on evictions and debt collection when they could be spending it on providing proper housing and vital services. The fact that ministers are happy to go ahead with a Bedroom Tax on disabled and low paid families, no matter how much chaos and misery it causes, says a lot about their commitment to fairness."
Salford Against the Bedroom Tax will be out in force protesting against the unfair Tax and other disgusting social policies at the Tory Party Conference in Manchester on September 29th.
For further information on the Falso Economy research - click here