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One in five Citizens Advice Bureaux clients facing under-occupancy penalty also in housing arrears

12 February 2014

In the last three months of 2013, one in five Citizens Advice clients dealing with the under-occupancy penalty was also in housing arrears. New figures today from the National Housing Federation show that changes to Housing Benefit have pushed a significant number of people into housing debt.

"Millions of people face a daily battle to keep a roof over their head. Changes like the under-occupancy penalty are pushing some families over the edge into debt and at risk of losing their home. Housing arrears problems reported to Citizens Advice Bureaux are up 13 per cent and last year increased in every English region.

"At the end of last year, one in five of our clients who came to us for help about the under-occupancy penalty was also in housing arrears. Ministers cannot safely put in place this policy without the right supply of housing. Years of failed housing policy mean our stock of affordable housing is woefully inadequate and for most people affected by changes to Housing Benefit, moving to a smaller home is just impossible.

"Getting the cost of Housing Benefit down cannot be done safely without addressing the supply of homes. Increasing costs for a small number of families without radically improving our housing stock is an upside-down approach which does nothing to tackle the root cause of our country's housing crisis."

Notes to editors:

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local bureaux, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit You can also get advice online at
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers
  5. Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2.3 million clients on 5.4 million problems from October 2013 to September 2014. For full 2013/2014  service statistics see our quarterly publication Advice trends
  6. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 3,000 service outlets across England and Wales.