One in every 11 people on housing benefit in the West Midlands has had their benefits cut by the bedroom tax, new figures have revealed.
Some 22,356 claimants across our region are losing some of the housing benefit they would otherwise receive because of the controversial tax.
The figures, published by the government, show the situation as at February this year. It is the first time the full effect of the bedroom tax – introduced in 2013 – has been laid bare.
The bedroom tax is a cut in housing benefit that applies to people who live in a council or housing association home and are classed as having a spare bedroom.
The tax – officially known as the spare-room subsidy reduction – doesn’t apply to pensioners and those living in privately rented housing.
The data shows 9% of all housing benefit claimants in the West Midlands have faced a reduction because of the measure – although the proportion affected is even higher in some parts of our region.
People in Sandwell are the most affected by the bedroom tax, with 13% of claimants having their benefits cut – affecting thousands of people in the area.
In Birmingham the bedroom tax applied in 8% of cases, affecting 8,471 people, while people in Solihull were the least affected, with just 6% of claimants seeing cuts.
On average, claimants in our region that had their benefits reduced by the bedroom tax saw the amount they received cut by between £14 and £17 a week, or the equivalent of more than £785 a year.
With the average amount awarded to people on benefits living in social housing coming to less than £90 a week, it is a substantial cut that could leave many struggling to pay rent.
About a quarter of people claiming housing benefits in the West Midlands are in private housing, so the bedroom tax does not apply.
The figures show that across Great Britain, 9% of claimants – 391,309 people – are losing some of their housing benefit, with cuts coming to around £15 a week on average.
The areas most affected are in Scotland, with 23% of people on housing benefits in East Ayrshire, Falkirk and West Dunbartonshire seeing the amount they receive reduced.
Meanwhile, the tax has had the smallest impact in Blackpool, with only 3% of claimants having their benefit cut – although parts of London, Essex and Surrey also feature heavily in the areas that have been least affected.