More than half (55%) of council tenants affected by the bedroom tax are now in rent arrears, according to new research.

The survey, conducted by the National Federation of ALMOs (NFA), the Association of Retained Council Housing (ARCH) and the Councils with ALMOs Group (CWAG), found that rent arrears for those directly affected by the under occupation penalty has risen by 27% in the past nine months.

The survey also revealed households in the north of England saw the highest increase in the level of rent arrears, while there was actually a drop in arrears in London over the same period.

ARCH policy adviser Matthew Warburton said: ‘The majority of under-occupying tenants are still trying to ‘pay and stay’ but few will be able to sustain this approach. We are yet to see the full adverse impact of these reforms.’

NFA policy director, Chloe Fletcher, said: ‘The NFA believes that the under occupation penalty should be reformed, that making Universal Credit payments to landlords should be a ‘tenant choice’ and that more resources should be made available to give tenants financial support and advice.’

Since the introduction of the bedroom tax, only 4.6% of affected tenants had moved to an alternative social housing property with 60% choosing to ‘pay and stay’ instead.

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