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New report reveals effects of 'bedroom tax'

A new report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has revealed that the government's so-called bedroom tax will not meet the financial targets set for the scheme.According to the findings, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) is set to save £330 million in the first year of the policy. This is £115 million below its initial target and is likely to decline in future years.The JRF says the figure is net of £55 million Discretionary Housing Payments spent to mitigate the policy’s effect on vulnerable people, and higher expected demand next year is likely to raise this number further.Two separate studies have been conducted by the foundation into the effects of the benefits changes. The first of these is on housing benefit size criteria, while the second investigates the impact wider welfare changes have had on social landlords and tenants.Latest available data has been used to gauge the effects of the policies on tenants, landlords and the government.According to the housing benefit size report, fewer people are paying the charge - 498,000, as opposed to the 660,000 estimated by the DWP. Half of these are in arrears in the policy's first six months due to the £14 per week cut.More than 100,000 people are trapped in larger homes and are subject to the cut even though they want to move. Some six per cent have relocated to avoid paying.Several reforms are proposed by the JRF to reduce the financial hardship suffered by some households as a result of the policy, including making allowances for an additional bedroom for households where someone claims a higher rate Disability Living Allowance.The second report reveals people are having to choose between sleeping and eating, with three quarters cutting their expenditure on food and others being referred to food banks.People are also becoming more vulnerable to debt and many have to borrow cash from their family and friends for essential purchases.In addition, although tenants and landlords are putting a renewed emphasis on finding work or apprenticeships, many of those in jobs are worried about falling incomes and job security. 

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