Households being "squeezed from all sides"
As new research finds that only 6 per cent of people affected by the Under-Occupancy Penalty have moved house to avoid additional costs, Citizens Advice says that a sharp rise in rent arrears in 2013 shows implementing the new policy cannot be done safely without first increasing the stock of affordable homes.
Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, Gillian Guy, said:
"Households are being squeezed from all sides. Cuts to housing support are making rocketing costs and lack of affordable homes even harder to deal with. By the end of 2013, one in five Citizens Advice clients asking for help with the under-occupancy penalty was in debt.
"It is just not safe to deliver the under-occupancy penalty safely whilst our stock of housing remains so woefully inadequate. The idea that downsizing to avoid extra costs is an easy get-out is simply not true whilst so few affordable homes are available.
"Paying rent is often where households really feel the pinch and rising rent arrears for our clients has been one of the main symptoms of the economic downturn. Last year we saw a 10 per cent rise in social housing arrears problems and a shocking 26 per cent increase in tenants on the edge of losing their home. Getting costs down means getting building up. We need immediate investment in new housing."
Notes to editors:
- 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.
- 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.
- To find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk. You can also get advice online at adviceguide.org.uk
- 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
- 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
- Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 3,000 service outlets across England and Wales.