Nearly 80% of people receiving housing benefit in Wales are falling behind with their rent payments. Figures from Community Housing Cymru show that there aren't enough suitable homes available so that people can downsize. Alexandra Lodge reports.
Nick Bennett is the Chief Executive of Community Housing Cymru. He says the 'bedroom tax' as doesn't work in Wales because there is 'no demand for larger properties.'
Nearly 80 per cent of people receiving housing benefit are falling behind their rent payments and 800 homes are sitting empty because of the controversial under occupancy rate.
The figures released by Community Housing Cymru show only 3% of people affected by the tax have been able to downsize.
The housing group are blaming the figures on a lack of one and two bedroom affordable housing in Wales.
The UK Government has previously said the removal of the spare room subsidy is needed to return fairness to housing benefit.
Protesters are due to march in Cardiff today against the so-called 'bedroom tax'.
The Department of Work and Pensions say the removal of the bedroom tax is a "necessary reform" and that it has made money available to help local authorities in Wales "support vulnerable people".
– Department for Work and Pensions Spokesperson
The removal of the spare room subsidy is a necessary reform to return fairness to housing benefit. Even after the reform we pay over 80% of most claimants' housing benefit - but the taxpayer can no longer afford to pay for people to live in properties larger than they need. It is right that people contribute to these costs, just as private renters do.
To help with the transition we have made £6.2m available to Welsh councils to support vulnerable people, with an additional £880,000 available to help those in rural parts of Wales.
Hundreds of protesters will march through Cardiff against the 'bedroom tax'.
Homeless charities, the Church in Wales and assembly members have all spoken out against the controversial plans to charge tenants for empty bedrooms.
Shelter Cymru say they have seen an increase in tenants falling behind in rent payments due to the 'bedroom tax'.
They have also called on the Welsh Government to increase the one and two bedroom housing stock.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said:
"The removal of the spare room subsidy is a necessary reform to return fairness to housing benefit...the taxpayer can no longer afford to pay for people to live in properties larger than they need."
One of Wales' biggest house builders is stopping its developments in the valleys north of Pontypridd because it doesn't make enough profit on sales.
The news from Persimmon Homes comes a day after the Welsh Government announced plans to invest £130 million to build affordable homes across Wales in the next 30 years.
But housing community bosses say those plans don't go far enough, as Alexandra Lodge reports.
Work will start this year on constructing 1000 homes which will be built in Wales over the next two years.
And over the next 30 years the Welsh Government will be putting £130m towards building "quality and affordable housing.
Carl Sargeant, Minister for Housing and Regeneration says, "Building new homes is important not only in meeting the growing housing need of communities but also as a way of providing work to help people out of poverty and to counter the highly damaging effects of the UK Government's 'bedroom tax'.
Over a third of council tenants affected by the bedroom tax in areas of Wales have fallen behind on their rent, according to figures released by the TUC today.
Figures obtained by the False Economy campaign reveal across Britain over 50,000 council housing tenants have fallen behind on their rent since the reform was introduced in April – nearly a third of all tenants affected by the tax in the 114 local authorities that provided data.
However in some parts of Wales, the proportion of council housing tenants in arrears has been far higher.
In Wrexham and Anglesey, almost half of all council house tenants (44%) affected by the bedroom tax have been pushed into arrears since April.
In Swansea, 38% of tenants in the city affected by the tax have fallen behind on their rent and in Cardiff, 616 families have experienced difficulties.
Wales TUC has welcomed the Welsh Government’s Smaller Properties Programme announced in August which provided £20 million in funding to help with the provision of smaller affordable homes.
Reacting to the figures Wales TUC National Officer, Julie Cook said,
“Today’s depressing news provides further proof that the Bedroom Tax is pushing families into complete despair. Disabled people who need space for their carers and families, and who have nowhere else to move, are being put at risk of debt and homelessness by the tax."
Protesters campaigning against the so-called 'bedroom tax' and other cuts in government spending held a small demonstration outside the Cardiff hotel where the Welsh Liberal Democrats are holding their conference.
They claimed that the Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg, had 'gall' to come to Cardiff and described him as 'the millionaire deputy prime minister who lives in a million pound home while telling us we need to downsize our homes'.
In the Conference hall, Mr Clegg told delegates that governments had to live within their means. But he denied that the coalition is 'cruel and unbending', saying ministers had made a pragmatic choice to slow down the deficit and debt reduction timetable.