We asked followers of the @itvnews Twitter account how they might be affected by cuts in benefits to those deemed to have spare bedrooms in their properties.
Tashii from Norfolk said she could understand why the government might want to make such savings but that it was "not fair" for people who did not choose where they lived:
@itvnews I've been told I will have to pay council tax also so somehow have to magic £80+ a month! I was PUT in this house WITHOUT CHOICE!
@itvnews I can see what's they're doing it but its not fair for people like me who had no choice in where they lived (cause I was homeless)
Heather Simpson said she would have to find an extra £100 a month and that she also had not chosen the property she lives in.
She said she was considering a 'rent strike' in protest at the proposals:
@itvnews i have find a extra £100 a month im disabled put in my house only adapted place without no choice might go on rent strike
Alex Milne split up with his partner a year ago and his two children - Rhiann,10, and Billy, 3 - come to stay every weekend and on the holidays.
He lives in a two bedroom flat in Irvine near Glasgow. His daughter stays in the spare room when she comes to visit, but under the 'bedroom tax' he may be forced to downsize to a one bedroom flat.
Alex says he can't afford the £40 a month it would cost to stay where he is but he is worried his children would not want to stay with him if they had to share a bed.
ITV News' reporter Sejal Karia visited him at home:
Lisa and Brett live in a two bedroom property in Essex and fear they will be affected by the 'bedroom tax'.
Under the new rules, they would be classified as a couple and would only be entitled to one bedroom. To stay in their current home they would have to pay £80 per month for the second bedroom.
ITV News' reporter Sejal Karia visited them at home to find out why their 'spare' bedroom is much more than a luxury:
ITV News viewers have been commenting on our report about the human cost of the 'bedroom tax' on our Facebook page. Here is a selection:
I know elderly people in four bedroom houses that are not affected. I know these elderly people have raised their kids in these homes and they hold lots of memories but ... me and my husband have five children and live in a three bedroom house and have four girls age ranging from 15 to 4 and I desperately need bigger accommodation.
I think it is fair in a lot of ways! I'm in a house private[ly] rented wanting a social housing house for my family. Why should my mum have one when we have all moved out? I do think it should be means tested and only affect those who really are living in space they can live without...
It is all very well people ... saying that anyone who has a spare room should move out to a smaller property. But where are the smaller properties? There aren't any!
ITV News viewers have been reacting on Twitter to our report about how the 'bedroom tax' will affect a disabled couple and a divorced parents.
Disgusted at govs new bedroom tax after seeing how it will effect disabled people with low income. @itvnews story just made me cry :-(
@itvnews b/room tax targets most vulnerable in society unfairly. Housing lists will go crazy - several house moves necessary in family life
The government says that anyone hit by the 'bedroom tax' in April will be able to apply for Discretionary Housing Payments to soften the blow. However, these payments will not be available to everyone.
- The National Housing Federation says funding for the payments is capped at £30 million and this is not ring-fenced
- Only foster carers and disabled people are eligible
- Payments are granted at the discretion of local authorities
- When the funding is gone, it's gone
For example, an estimated 180,000 social tenants in England are ‘under-occupying’ two-bed homes. This means they will be required to downsize or face a cut to their benefits.
But only 84,898 one-bed social homes became available for letting in 2011/12.
The housing shortage is particularly critical in the North of England and Scotland, according to the Federation.
According to the government's impact assessment, almost two thirds of the tenants affected by the so-called 'bedroom tax' are from households that contain someone who is disabled.
- 660,000 social housing tenants to be affected by 'bedroom tax'
- 420,000 of these households contain someone who is disabled
Father of two, Alex Milne, is separated from his partner and lives in a two bedroom flat where his children stay every weekend and during the holidays.
He is unemployed and on benefits but because the children do not live with him full time his second bedroom is deemed to be spare.
If he is unable to downsize he will have to stay in the flat and find £40 a month to keep the second room and he says he will have to cut back on food to pay for it.