Researchers at the University of York have gathered data suggesting that the Government has overestimated the savings to be made in implementing the Bedroom Tax.
Since April, academics have been gathering figures from four of the country’s largest housing associations and applying them to a model used by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to estimate the savings that the Government will make.
Professor Rebecca Tunstall, director of the Centre for Housing Policy at the University of York has said “The savings estimated by DWP assume that of the 660,000 households affected, none of them will move to a smaller home – but we know from our own research that over a fifth want to downsize to avoid the penalty.
“Tenants are already on the move, and with nearly half of those who have chosen to stay already in rent arrears, we can only see that figure going in one direction.”
The research also indicated that the DWP’s model for calculating the savings was “flawed” because the proportion of tenants who would downsize by one bedroom and who of those would end up in the more expensive private sector to avoid the tax, was underestimated.
Welfare Minister Esther Mcvey has suggested that the research was based on too small a sample and, when asked what the Government should do to solve the problem of three-bedroom houses now lying empty due to the new charges, suggested that housing associations and councils should convert them into one and two-bedroom houses.
Bedroom Tax, which will result in a 14 per cent cut to housing benefit if a council or housing association tenant has one spare bedroom, and 25 per cent if they have two, will affect an estimated 660,000 working-age people.
The new tax will start affecting properties with spare bedrooms in April 2013.