Ten years after its introduction households across Great Yarmouth are still facing benefit cuts if their properties are classed as "under occupied".

The welfare reform announced in 2012 was aimed at more fairly distributing social and council housing to those in need by encouraging those with one or two "spare" bedrooms to downsize.

At the time officers in Great Yarmouth identified 573 council tenants with a spare bedroom who faced an under-occupancy penalty, a move to a smaller property, or taking a lodger.

Of the 130 households wanting to move the council had, in April 2013, only been able to find properties for 26.

Since the introduction of the under-occupancy charge or "bedroom tax" there have been a number of changes to the way benefits are claimed, including the introduction of Universal Credit.

This is paid directly by the Department for Work and Pensions rather than through local authorities and means Great Yarmouth Borough Council does not hold conclusive information on the number of people who received reduced benefits payment as a result of being assessed as having one or more spare rooms.

The rules for what counts as a spare room are set by the Department for Work and Pensions.

However, the council said its records indicated that as of March 2022 it had 146 properties under occupied by one bedroom and 28 properties were under occupied by two bedrooms or more.

This does not mean the tenants necessarily faced a reduction in benefits – they may be of pensionable age and exempt, or earning too much to qualify for benefit payments in the first place.

A spokesman said: "We have a number of options for tenants wanting to move, whatever the reason.

"Timescales for this will depend on housing available at the time and the type of properties they are moving between.

"Where tenants need help with rent payments, because of the under-occupancy charge or for any other reason, we can provide help and guidance on budgeting and potentially access to additional support funds."

Under the policy, tenants in social housing could have their benefits reduced by 14pc if they have a spare bedroom or 25pc if they have two or more than the rules state they need.