Report warns bedroom tax poses problems for Wales
THE bedroom tax will cause potential problems in Wales, according to a cross-party committee of MPs.
Under the shake-up of housing benefit both housing association and council tenants will have their benefits cut if they are deemed to have extra bedrooms.
But concerns have been raised by the Welsh Affairs Committee as people are unable to downsize due to a shortage of smaller homes for rent.
The UK Government said the step was taken to ensure more cash was made available for the most vulnerable.
Since April, the changes have led to a 14 per cent cut in benefits for one spare room and 25 per cent for two.
A total of 40,000 people across Wales have been affected by the reform.
In a report, the MPs said: “We recommend that the government issue discretionary guidance on the appropriate size of bedrooms in social rented sector accommodation.
“The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) must closely monitor whether local authorities are struggling to find alternative smaller accommodation for tenants who wish to downsize.
“If this is so, we urge the government to undertake a speedy review of this policy.”
It also said the Department of Work and Pensions should take steps to monitor “whether the movement of tenants to smaller accommodation in the private rented sector leads to long-term savings in housing benefit expenditure.”
MPs also stressed renting privately may prove more expensive and the Government’s suggestion that the under-occupancy policy would curb rent prices in the private housing sector had not been proved.
A DWP spokesperson added: “Housing benefit continues to pay the vast majority of people’s rent, but the taxpayer can no longer afford to cover the costs of spare bedrooms.
“However, we have made £6.2 million available to Welsh councils to support vulnerable people, with an additional £880,000 available to help those in rural parts of Wales.”
Charity Community Housing Cymru said the report’s findings reflected its concerns.