'Bedroom tax will hurt most vulnerable' say housing associations, as London council suggests affected couples foster a child to avoid losing housing benefit

Report says there is no need for people to move in some areas as families with a spare room outnumber overcrowded households by three to one

The introduction of the “bedroom tax” could backfire by increasing the benefits bill and failing to tackle overcrowding, housing associations forecast this evening.

Their warning came ahead of Monday’s introduction of a scheme under which people living in social properties deemed too large for their needs lose up to 25 per cent of their housing benefit entitlement.

The Independent reported yesterday that Frank Field, a former welfare minister, had appealed to landlords to take direct action against the “wicked” moves by knocking down walls or bricking up doors. More than 50 rallies against the bedroom tax will be staged across the United Kingdom on Saturday.

A report by the National Housing Federation, which represents 1,200 housing associations, said the policy was targeting those parts of the country least affected by the problem of under-occupation.

It said that in the north of England there was no need for people to move as families with a spare room outnumbered overcrowded households by three to one. It added that there were insufficient smaller properties for all 660,000 households affected by the bedroom tax to move into.

If disabled people in adapted properties moved into smaller homes this could also cost the taxpayer millions more in costly home adaptations, the federation claimed.

David Orr, its chief executive, said: “The bedroom tax is an ill-conceived policy which will hurt the most vulnerable people in our society. It will cause financial hardship for hundreds of thousands of families and cause huge upheaval around the country.”

Meanwhile, Ealing Council in west London has suggested that families hit by the bedroom tax could foster a child to avoid losing benefit.

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