The effects of benefit cuts—in particular, the ‘bedroom tax’—are causing children emotional distress and affecting concentration at school, according to a new study.
In the first piece of research to examine the impact of the controversial policy, education specialists at the University of Manchester found the ‘bedroom tax’, alongside other cuts in benefits, has a negative impact on pupils’ ability to concentrate.
The study discovered that the reduction in housing benefit that hits those with ‘spare rooms’ was forcing children to share bedrooms. This means that many youngsters don’t have a quiet place for homework or undisturbed sleep.
The change in housing benefits, which was introduced in April 2013, has also made afterschool and extra-currciular activities unaffordable to some parents.
The controversial ‘bedroom tax’ is a reduction in housing benefit payments of an average £11-a-week (£572-a-year) for those with one ‘spare’ bedroom and more for those with two.
The study carried out in depth research with a small group of parents, schools and community organisations over a 16-month period and will be published by the Manchester Institute of Education.
Professor Ruth Lupton, from The University of Manchester, said: ‘The findings of this study confirm a wider picture emerging from research which points to the bedroom tax failing to meet its original aims while contributing to significant hardship among low-income families.’
Professor Lupton continued: ‘Our study suggests that the pressure put on families by this cut in benefits may also be working contrary to other policies that are intended to support child wellbeing and educational achievement, diminishing their effectiveness.’