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Our latest research in the Guardian: bedroom tax could make 1000s homeless

As reported in the Guardian today:

Our latest research at False Economy shows that a severe shortage of one-bedroom properties will hit tens of thousands unless new homes are built:

"Tens of thousands of the poorest people in Britain risk being made homeless because of the bedroom tax, according to an analysis of councils' assessments of the welfare cut.

From last month, housing benefit has been reduced to council or housing association tenants who ministers claim have more bedrooms than they need.

Data from 107 local authorities shows 86,000 households have been forced to look for one-bedroom homes, of which only 33,000 have become available in the past year.

The figures mask considerable regional variation. In Essex, 100 social housing tenants in Rochford were deemed to require a one-bedroom property because of the benefit changes but only five had become vacant the previous year. In Gloucester the council said 111 one-bed homes had been available last year, but almost 500 households needed them because of the bedroom tax.

Inverclyde in Scotland said 1,100 households would need to move into one-bedroom homes – of which just 96 had been free to rent last year.

Any tenants "under-occupying" their properties will lose 14% of housing benefit – an average of £9.25, according to the analysis – until they move into a one-bedroom home. The government's impact assessment last summer warned that 35% of claimants affected "would be quite or very likely to fall into arrears if their housing benefit were to be reduced".

False Economy, the trade union-backed campaign that used freedom of information requests to get the data, said it had chosen to focus on one-bed properties as ministers had been forced to acknowledge last year that there was a "shortage" of such homes but pressed on regardless with the policy.

A spokesman for False Economy said: "The disparity between the demand for one-bed housing and a whole year's worth of supply is so severe that there is little hope of plugging the shortfall." Without new homes being built, "tens of thousands are now facing a crisis"."

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