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One year since the introduction of the government’s ‘bedroom tax’, a new survey has discovered a growing north-south divide as residents in the Midlands and the North of England  are continuing to be hit the hardest by welfare reforms.

The survey found that tenants in the Midlands and the North of England are more likely to be affected by the under-occupation penalty (11 % and 13% respectively compared to 5% in London) and also to be in rent arrears (5 % and 7% compared to 2% in the capital).  

Wolverhampton Homes, the company who manages more than 23,000 council houses on behalf of Wolverhampton City Council took part in the national survey. Locally, one year on, 2,393 households are affected by the under occupation penalty and nearly 50% of those are in rent arrears. 

The findings are the result of a joint research project from the National Federation of ALMOs (NFA), the Association of Retained Council Housing (ARCH) and the Councils with ALMOs Group (CWAG), into the impact of welfare reforms on council tenants. Together the three housing bodies represent over 1.3m council properties.

Commenting on the report, NFA Policy Director, Chloe Fletcher, said:

The results of our latest survey suggest that although overall levels of rent arrears attributed to welfare reforms are falling nationally, there are considerable regional differences with the North of England being hit harder than other areas. There are a number of reasons for this including a lack of suitable one and two bed properties to move to and far fewer employment opportunities for tenants to apply for.” 

Councillor Peter Bilson, Deputy Leader of Wolverhampton City Council added:

It seems grossly unfair that people living in the Midlands and the north of the country are being disproportionately hit by the welfare reforms introduced by the coalition government. What this report really does highlight is the need for more homes in cities like Wolverhampton.”

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