Thousands going without food because of 'Bedroom Tax', says government report

Posted On: 
17th December 2015

Nearly half of those affected by the so-called Bedroom Tax have gone without food so they can make ends meet, a shock report has revealed.

More than three-quarters also regularly run out of money by the end of the week or the month, according to the study published by the Department for Work and Pensions.

The report was one of hundreds of publications and statements put out by ministers today - leading to accusations that they were trying to "bury bad news".

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Under Work and Pension Secretary Iain Duncan Smith's controversial policy, social tenants who have a spare room lose part of their housing benefit.

Ministers say it is aimed at encouraging them to move into smaller properties, freeing up larger homes for those who need them.

But research carried out by pollsters Ipsos MORI and the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research on behalf of the DWP found that only one in nine of those affected had done so, while only 5% had found extra work.

It also showed that 44% had gone without food to save money, one-quarter had cut back on heating and one in five had reduced the amount they spent on transport.

POVERTY

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Owen Smith said the Conservatives should scrap the "brutal" policy.

He said: "If one policy sums up the cruelty of this Tory government it’s the Bedroom Tax.

"This damning independent report published by the DWP itself, shows how this brutal and unfair policy deliberately drives people deeper and deeper in to poverty.

"It’s shameful – especially in the run up to Christmas - that 80% of people hit by the Bedroom Tax regularly run out of money by the end of the week or month.

“Iain Duncan Smith claimed a ‘discretionary’ pot of money would be available to help people affected, but this research makes it crystal clear that over 75 per cent of people who lose out have not received that support.  How he can continue to stand by this vile policy is beyond me."

DISCRETIONARY PAYMENTS

A government spokeswoman said: “It is wrong that under the previous system taxpayers had to subsidise benefit claimants to live in houses that are larger than they require. Removing the spare room subsidy has restored fairness to the system for claimants as well as the taxpayer, and the numbers subject to a reduction are falling.

"We know that there are cases where people may need extra support whilst they transition to our reforms – that’s why we have given councils £500m of funding to provide discretionary payments to those that need them, with a further £800m to be provided over the course of this parliament."