Work being carried out by Wirral Partnership Homes has found that 45% of its tenants who will be affected by the penalty for under-occupation will accept the reduction to benefit payments rather than move to smaller properties.
From April 2013, working age social tenants who are receiving housing benefit will see payments cut if they are deemed to be under-occupying.
The size criteria in the social rented sector will restrict housing benefit to allow for one bedroom for each person or couple living as part of the household, with the following exceptions:
- Children under 16 of same gender expected to share
- Children under 10 expected to share regardless of gender
- Disabled tenant or partner who needs non resident overnight carer will be allowed an extra bedroom
WPH is in the process of contacting around 2,300 of its tenants who it believes will be affected by the cut. So far 550 have been contacted; 104 are considering moving to smaller properties, but 247 said they would rather accept the benefit reduction and stay put.
John Mycock, assistant director of housing at WPH, said it is proving difficult to make some tenants aware of the potential problems. He said: “Until it impacts I don’t think we are going to see the worst of it. Even if people can pay it the government is going to look hard at the other benefits that they are getting.”
However he added that even if people were prepared to move WPH would have trouble meeting their needs, due to a lack of available smaller homes. He added: “We can’t see any way in which we can accommodate even a fraction of the people who are under-occupying.”