11 September, 2013
A United Nations special investigator sparked controversy yesterday as she called for the new 'bedroom tax' to be abolished. The so called tax was introduced as part of the Welfare Reform Act 2012. With the introduction of this Act in April 2013, those tenants with one extra bedroom in their property are subject to a 14% reduction in their housing benefit, whilst those with two extra bedrooms face a reduction of 25%.
Whilst there has been a significant rise in the number of rent arrears cases in the face of these cuts, many Registered Providers have adopted a 'no eviction for bedroom tax arrears' pledge. However, for some RP's, evictions must be pursued in order to secure the funds necessary to sustain affordable housing.
The UN investigator's claims that "the most vulnerable" members of society are being hit hard by the policy, follows on from a legal challenge to the tax earlier this year. Whilst the High Court ruled that the policy was not unlawfully discriminatory, the UN investigator's damning observations may do little to assist to Registered Providers in the pursuit of tackling rising rent arrears. The criticisms may well prompt an increasing reluctance amongst the Judiciary to award possession orders, resulting in an increased administrative and costs burden on Registered Providers.