FHA calls for “bedroom tax” to be suspended for further investigation

FHADunfermline MSP Bill Walker has expressed dismay at a report by Fife Housing Association (FHA) highlighting the impact and consequences of the UK Government’s “bedroom tax”.

Under the changes coming into force 1st April, social tenants deemed to have one bedroom too many will have to pay an average of £9 extra per week, while those with two bedrooms extra must find around £16.

FHA expects one in five of their tenants to be affected. Many are extremely vulnerable, have serious health problems or are already struggling financially. Alarmingly, most have no immediate affordable accommodation alternatives.

The report warns there is simply not enough one and two bedroom stock in Fife. Over the last twelve months, none of FHA’s 12 bedsit stock have turned over, compared to only 15 of their 82 one bedroom stock and 137 of their 1,125 two bedroom stock.

Mr Walker said: “FHA’s report is alarming and asks extremely important questions about this ill thought out and indecently rushed ‘bedroom tax’.

“The list of problems is staggering, whether it’s breaking up social networks people depend upon, or the many unanswered questions such as who will cover the costs when disabled people are forced out of specially adapted homes and have to start again.

“One of the most deplorable issues is the complete lack of alternative homes for those wishing to move. Disastrous Westminster policies have, according to FHA’s figures, seen 6,883 affordable Fife homes lost through Right to Buy between 2001-2002 and 2011-2012.

“Further, 72% of FHA tenants affected by the bedroom tax are single but the need for one bedroom accommodation on the Fife Housing Register far exceeds supply. 70% of households assessed as homeless in 2011-12 required a one bedroom house, but most had to be offered a larger home. This is a problem not of their making but of Westminster policies.

“FHA anticipates low income households being forced into higher cost private rented accommodation, which will of course cost the taxpayer even more, with private landlords being the only winners.

“I support FHA’s call for the UK Government to suspend introducing the Bedroom Tax for further investigation into alternatives which will encourage people to downsize, but which will not penalise those who cannot.”

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