CPAG's response to DWP evaluation of the Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy (RSRS)

15 July 2014

CPAG’s response to the DWP evaluation of the Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy (RSRS) published today. Full report and summary.

Main findings

  • The data shows a small reduction in households affected by RSRS at 4.6%. 11.1% of all social tenancies were affected by RSRS.
  • 57% of claimants reported cutting back on ‘household essentials’.
  • Claimants who have managed to supplement the shortfall used short-term solutions; borrowing money from family and friends (26%) or running up debt.
  • Claimants looked to earn more to make payment (18%), but not with huge success. Both local authority and landlords had encouraged tenants to find work, although they were concerned about the long-term barriers faced by tenants.
  • Very few affected claimants have taken a lodger- a frequent reason was concerns around sharing their home with someone they did not know. ‘This was a particular concern if claimants had children or if they felt themselves to be vulnerable.’
  • 19% of affected tenants have registered for downsizing- although they have not been able to accommodate most of those who want to move to a smaller home.
  • More than 56% of RSRS claimants surveyed who had not applied for Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) to help with the shortfall – state they were not aware of it.

Alison Garnham, Chief Executive Child Poverty Action Group, said;

"The Government’s own evaluation helps explain why polling suggests the 'bedroom tax' is one of the government's most unpopular policies." 

 "The research exposes the unfairness at the heart of the policy of financially penalising people for not moving to smaller properties even if there's nowhere available for them to go. It is also a loud and clear warning that families are at breaking point. While most of those affected have managed to pay at least some of the shortfall, they have done so largely by making short-term coping decisions like going without essentials or running up debts. These families are sinking deeper into a hole of the Government's making."