A Warwick man who was among more than 32,000 people believed to have been pushed into rent arrears by the withdrawal of the Government’s Spare Room Subsidy - or bedroom tax - is among those who have been offered help from a new fund.
In July part-time martial arts instructor Rob Charteris said he was in a “Catch 22” situation after losing nearly £60 a month because of the unused bedroom at his council house in Yeomanry Close.
Mr Charteris decided he and his son Danny, would have to to move to a smaller property.
But then the district council said because of a small build-up of arrears over the previous three months, he was no longer eligible to downsize with their HomeSwapper website.
In fact, so many people found themselves in Mr Charteris’s situation that the Government has offered an extra £20 million in discretionary housing payments to local authorities so that they could ease the burden during any transition period to smaller properties.
Mr Charteris, who had complained to Warwick and Leamington MP Chris White, was glad of the help.
But he said: “I’m still far from happy about this situation as it is apparently only for a set period of three or six months until people can move or get a lodger.
“As it happens my personal circumstances have improved and I am now able to pay off my arrears. But I know some people will never to able to pay their debts. Yet apparently they can only qualify for help for six months at the most and there are not enough smaller houses for them to move in to.”
This view was echoed by David Orr, chairman of the National Housing Association, who says half the families hit by the reduction in housing benefit were pushed into debt in the first three months of its introduction on April 1.
Mr Orr said a quarter of them had fallen into rent arrears for the first time ever because the Government had miscalculated the number of smaller homes available.