Ending of spare room subsidy sees big fall in benefit claims
Published: Wednesday 29th January 14
New figures show that more than a fifth of households in Wandsworth affected by the Government’s welfare changes to the spare room subsidy have stopped claiming housing benefit altogether.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that 412 local households whose housing benefit was reduced under the Government’s reforms have ceased claiming it.
The figures have coincided with new data showing that the number of people claiming job seeker’s allowance (JSA) in Wandsworth fell by 20 per cent in the last year – growing evidence of the economic recovery and an improving local jobs market.
The FoI figures also revealed that the council has successfully rehoused more than 200 local families into more suitably sized accommodation following the Government’s decision to remove the spare room subsidy for tenants in social housing.
One hundred and three households who were living in cramped and overcrowded conditions or in temporary accommodation have been able to move into larger homes after these properties were vacated by tenants affected by the reforms.
The 103 households who downsized are now living in homes that are better suited to their current needs and as a result have not seen their housing benefit reduced.
Wandsworth’s housing spokesman Cllr Paul Ellis said: “These are very encouraging figures and indicate that the Government’s welfare reforms and its management of the UK economy are having a very positive impact on the lives of our tenants.
“Almost a fifth of households affected by the changes to the spare room subsidy have stopped claiming this benefit completely. This is coupled with the news that the number of people claiming job seekers allowance in the borough is down 20 per cent in a year.
“This picture suggests that these are families that have found employment and are back in the workplace and whose economic prospects are now on the rise.
“At the same time more than 200 local families are now living in accommodation that better suits their needs.
“Half are families who have been able to escape overcrowded, cramped and unsuitable accommodation and are now living in bigger homes with more bedrooms for their children.
“This is also good news for taxpayers who are no longer having to fund the rents charged by private sector landlords for larger properties which are often the only ones available for these families.
“And at the same time tenants who no longer need a larger council flat with unused bedrooms are not seeing their benefit payments reduced.”
The council’s housing department will support and assist any of the borough’s tenants who are affected by the subsidy changes if they wish to move into smaller sized properties.
Tenants who agree to move into a smaller sized property are eligible for a payment worth £1,500 for each bedroom