ALMOST two-thirds of people affected by the so-called bedroom tax are disabled, according to analysis by Citizens Advice Scotland.
A survey of around 400 people who have approached CAS raising the issue of the change to housing benefit revealed that over 65% are classed as disabled.
The survey also showed that one in 10 of those questioned are caring for a disabled person while more than half are unable to work.
1,600 cases in six months
CAS reported that it has advised on more than 1,600 new issues related to the bedroom tax in the six months since the changes were introduced by the UK Government.
The organisation says that 82,000 households in Scotland are affected by the under-occupancy charge, which sees housing benefit cut for social housing tenants if they are deemed to have a spare room.
CAS says 80% of these people are disabled and in many cases their homes have been adapted accordingly.
‘Hitting most vulnerable’
The organisation’s chief executive Margaret Lynch said, “We have now seen over six months of the bedroom tax, so we have enough evidence to present a real picture of its impact.
“The first thing that is clear is that the majority of Scots affected are sick and disabled people who were already living on low incomes.
“So, like so many of the recent welfare reforms, this is a measure that is principally hitting the most vulnerable people in our society, making their difficult situations even worse.
“Most of the people we have seen are unable to work for health reasons, so were already living in poverty even before this measure came in.
“Many had already seen their income shrink over the last few years because of the harsh changes to disability benefits.”
CAS has recommended that severely disabled people, and families where children have been allocated an extra room due to a health condition, should be exempted in legislation from under occupancy charges.
The organisation says all social landlords should review their allocations policies to ensure that anyone who wants or needs to downsize is able to do so, and the government should continue to provide Discretionary Housing Payment funding to help those struggling.
OUR WRITERS ON THE BEDROOM TAX