Almost one in three of the South East's social housing tenants are affected by the "bedroom tax" and 15 per cent would rather pay the tax than leave their current homes, new research has found. The research, carried out by Vision Critical on behalf of building maintenance and refurbishment firm FT Finley, found that a third of respondents to a survey in the South East reported they are facing increased outgoings under the new bedroom tax because they are deemed to have 'spare' bedrooms. Just one per cent are certain they will be able to get a smaller property in the same area according to the study. Experts believe affected tenants could be around £832 worse off every year due to bedroom tax payments. Echoing the voices of many social commentators, almost 70 per cent of social housing tenants in the region think the bedroom tax is "unfair", with the majority - 71 per cent - thinking it is "completely the wrong solution" to the current 1.8 million strong waiting list for social housing properties. The lack of availability of smaller properties, both in the South East and beyond, means a large number of those currently under-occupying their properties and 86 per cent believe the Government needs to invest in providing more one and two bedroomed homes. In the South East 69 per cent of social housing tenants feel they are being disproportionately targeted by Government measures. Jay Finley, managing director of FT Finley, said: "Social housing tenants across the country are reporting that they're feeling marginalised and are lacking confidence that the Government can solve the housing crisis, with four out of five of those we questioned in the South East stating they believe the Government is out of touch, focused only on helping the richer members of society or incapable of resolving the economic crisis. "However, it's not all negative. Our research also revealed that social housing residents feel a strong sense of community, with many having a real desire to stay in the homes and areas in which they're currently living." A third of those living in the South East are proud of their local area, with almost half feeling safe – 45 per cent - and almost a fifth saying they are part of a tight-knit community that looks out for each other. Almost three-quarters of those in the region reported they are satisfied with the condition of the homes they currently occupy – eight per cent higher than the national average – suggesting landlords are concerned with ensuring the condition of their properties is of a high standard. For those tenants who have benefited from repairs, 70 per cent are pleased with the contractors who carry out maintenance and repairs on their properties. Mr Finley added: "The survey suggests that while many South East tenants are happy in their current homes, social housing providers and local authorities must be mindful that this is a difficult time for many who may be feeling vulnerable and uncertain about their future. "Now, more than ever, it is vital that landlords in the region are providing exemplary, high quality repairs and maintenance services in an acceptable time frame, and in consultation with their tenants. Bringing specialist contractors in to do the work can minimise disruptions and ensure the work is up to a high standard, reducing the need to repeat repairs in the foreseeable future."
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