Families struggling with rent as bedroom tax hits
HUNDREDS of Swansea families have fallen behind with their rent since the bedroom tax came into force, stark new figures show.
Around 768 families living in council housing in the city are feeling the pinch and more people than ever have been pushed into arrears since April.
The figure accounts for 38 per cent of all tenants affected by the tax in the city.
Overall, more than one in three council tenants in Wales have fallen behind on their rent since the bedroom tax was rolled out, new figures released by False Economy show.
Since the new policy came into force in April more than 2,800 council housing tenants — 35 per cent — have been pushed into arrears.
The bedroom tax was unveiled last year under the biggest shake-up of the welfare system in generations.
It led to those on benefits having their housing benefit slashed by 14 per cent or 25 per cent depending on the number of spare rooms they have.
Wales TUC national officer Julie Cook said: "Today's depressing news provides further proof that the bedroom tax is pushing families into complete despair.
"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.
"This cruel and ill thought through policy is actually costing the UK Government money while making it impossible for the majority of council tenants in Wales to meet the most basic costs.
"The fact that over one in three of council tenants in this study are falling into arrears is a sickening reminder of the Coalition Government's determination to turn a crisis in our banks into a raid on the living standards of ordinary people."
She added: "We welcome the emergency action taken by Welsh Government to mitigate the impact of this tax via the Smaller Properties Programme but tenants all over Wales need this brutal UK Coalition policy to be reversed."
The findings were released under a Freedom of Information (FOI) Act request by False Economy through nine local authorities.
More than 50,000 tenants UK-wide have admitted to falling behind with their rent repayments since April.
The situation has led to some tenants offering to move but they are unable to be re-housed as smaller properties are not free for them to move into.
The Welsh Government has previously revealed that 35,257 households are affected across Wales, including properties owned by registered social landlords.
Campaign Manager for False Economy Clifford Singer added: "These figures show once again the predictable chaos that has resulted from the hated bedroom tax."
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman previously added: "The removal of the spare-room subsidy is a necessary reform to return fairness to housing benefit.
"Even after the reform we pay over 80 per cent of most claimants' housing benefit — but the taxpayer can no longer afford to pay for people to live in properties larger than they need.
"It is right that people contribute to these costs, just as private renters do."