Councils across the Black Country and Staffordshire have yet to evict anyone for failing to pay the ‘bedroom tax’, despite thousands of people falling into debt with their rent.
But 11 people have so far been taken to court as a result of unpaid rent.
The policy was enacted in April and removed 14 or 25 per cent of housing benefit from council or social housing tenants with one or more spare rooms.
It was intended to free up larger homes for families and reduce enormous council house waiting lists.
But a shortage of smaller properties has left many people with no choice but to pay higher rents, with thousands falling behind as a result.
Sandwell Council has prosecuted nine out of 2,781 tenants who are in arrears and who found themselves paying more because of the removal of what the Government called the ‘spare room subsidy’. It is currently owed £656,491 in unpaid rent.
Wolverhampton Homes, which manages the city council’s houses, is owed £55,500 as a direct result of the ‘bedroom tax’ and has taken two people to court, with three cases pending. But it has not yet evicted a single tenant as a result.
Dudley Council has 35 tenants in arrears specifically because of the ‘bedroom tax’ but has not taken anyone to court while Cannock Chase District Council saw rent arrears rise by £22,770 since April with 272 tenants owing money.
But there have been no evictions or court cases related to the ‘bedroom tax’.
Mark Henderson, director of housing at Wolverhampton Homes said: “We know people are struggling and we’re really grateful to the vast majority of our tenants who are regularly paying their rent on time.
“The stark reality is, if people don’t pay their rent and don’t talk to us to find out how we can help them; then they could end up losing their home.
“This isn’t the time for burying heads in the sand, this issue isn’t going to go away, and, if we have to, we’ll go to the courts. No-one wants to see that happen but that’s the situation we find ourselves in and we’ve got a duty to those tenants who pay their rent on time to make sure we take action against those who don’t.
“Two Wolverhampton tenants have already had to go to court. In those cases we were able to come up with suitable repayment plans, but if they’d not ignored our repeated attempts to help them, it could have saved them a lot of time, the extra money they now owe as court costs, and hassle”.
Dudley councillor Steve Waltho, cabinet member for housing, said: “We deal with all rent arrears in the same way and look to offer support to tenants to ensure they can manage payments.”