Behind the bedroom tax: One in three face eviction

One in three council tenants affected by the 'bedroom tax' have been forced into arrears and face eviction since it was introduced earlier this year, new figures reveal today.

More than 50,000 people have fallen behind on their rent since April, according to research published by the False Economy campaign.

The figures released by 114 local authorities show that in some areas up to three-quarters of council tenants affected by the changes now face eviction.

At least 30,000 people living in housing association properties have also been pushed into arrears according to separate research by the National Housing Federation.

Campaigners today described the findings as a "full-blown crisis".

"These figures show once again the predictable chaos that has resulted from the hated bedroom tax," said False Economy campaign manager Clifford Singer.

"Together with the raft of other benefits cuts the government has forced through both this year and previously, the bedroom tax is driving tenants and families who were just making ends meet into arrears, and pushing those who were already struggling with the cost of living into a full-blown crisis."

Government sources today suggested that the figures did not represent long term changes.

A spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions said they were "carefully monitoring the policy nationally" and would ensure that "extra funds to support vulnerable tenants are used well as these changes are introduced".

Barrow in north-west England was the local authority with the largest percentage of tenants affected. Of 289 tenants, three quarters have not been able to pay their rent since the policy came into effect.

According to the findings, 2,515 tenants have fallen behind on their rent in North Lanarkshire and 1,841 face eviction in Rotherham.

Political support for the 'bedroom tax', officially known as the "spare room subsidy" appears to be splintering.

At last week's Liberal Democrat conference, party members defeated their leadership in a vote over support for the policy.

Polls have also shown a majority of the public oppose the change.

A recent call by a United Nations official for the 'bedroom tax' to be scrapped caused outrage among government figures.

Raquel Rolnik was vilified by ministers and sections of the press after she claimed that the benefit change was driving vulnerable people to despair and suicide.