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From Leeds: an excellent case study-based report on the devastating impacts of the bedroom tax

Campaigners at Leeds Hands off Our Homes have produced this excellent report on the effects of the bedroom tax on people in Leeds

The report draws on evidence from 60 case studies of affected tenants and Leeds City Council statistics (acquired through Freedom of Information requests) to provide a detailed and compulsive picture of the impact on the bedroom tax.

As campaigners say:

"The report shows how the bedroom tax infringes the right to adequate housing in multiple ways. Particular concerns include the way that the bedroom tax constitutes an unaffordable rent increase, targets disabled people and infringes the rights of the child and the right to family life. We also found many incidences of bullying and harassment by landlords and landlords agents (including Leeds City Council) that are causing distress for affected tenants, and evidence that a huge number of tenants are not being informed about their eligibility to Discretionary Housing Payments."

The report authors observe that the financial hardship caused by the bedroom tax means that the "majority of the tenants in our sample reported cutting back on essentials such as food, clothing and heating. Many tenants suffer from serious medical conditions which make them particularly vulnerable to the cold, and with rising energy prices, we fear their lives may be at risk. The health of tenants is also at risk from poor nutrition. Some tenants have increased debts in other areas or turned to an illegal 'loan shark' to pay the bedroom tax."

The impact on people with disabilities and illnesses has been devastating: "Almost 75% of our sample have one or more significant illnesses or disabilities. The vast majority of mental and physical issues reported were likely to be triggered or exacerbated by stress, and in most cases, the tenant would not have been able to cope with a house move. The bedroom tax effectively targets people with disabilities and chronic illnesses, as they are far more likely to live in social housing and to be in receipt of Housing Benefit... The bedroom tax also infringes the rights of disabled people who are supported by an affected tenant - eg where an extra room is needed for the supported person to have respite visits, or if a tenant supporting a neighbour is forced to move away."

The report also details the impact of the bedroom tax on families and children: "As of August 2013, 3347 children lived in households affected by the bedroom tax in Leeds. Eleven of the households in our sample contained schoolaged children. Many parents reported distress about the impact of financial hardship on their ability to provide for the child's wellbeing and education, or were sacrificing essentials to do so. Several cited anxieties about the effects on the child's schooling or social/emotional development if they had to change schools due to a house move."

Read the full report here.

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