As new research finds that only 6 per cent of people affected by the Under-Occupancy Penalty have moved house to avoid additional costs, Citizens Advice says that a sharp rise in rent arrears in 2013 shows implementing the new policy cannot be done safely without first increasing the stock of affordable homes.
Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, Gillian Guy, said:
"Households are being squeezed from all sides. Cuts to housing support are making rocketing costs and lack of affordable homes even harder to deal with. By the end of 2013, one in five Citizens Advice clients asking for help with the under-occupancy penalty was in debt.
"It is just not safe to deliver the under-occupancy penalty safely whilst our stock of housing remains so woefully inadequate. The idea that downsizing to avoid extra costs is an easy get-out is simply not true whilst so few affordable homes are available.
"Paying rent is often where households really feel the pinch and rising rent arrears for our clients has been one of the main symptoms of the economic downturn. Last year we saw a 10 per cent rise in social housing arrears problems and a shocking 26 per cent increase in tenants on the edge of losing their home. Getting costs down means getting building up. We need immediate investment in new housing."