Bedroom tax is ‘slammed’

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News

A CONTROVERSIAL ‘bedroom tax’ could leave Derbyshire families over £500 a year out of pocket.

The Government plans to cut housing benefit to people who are living in council or social housing which has a ‘spare’ bedroom and is deemed too large.

Those with one empty room will lose 15 per cent of their benefit while those with two will lose 25 per cent.

Around 4,779 households in the Derbyshire Times area are living in social housing considered to be ‘under-occupied’.

According to figures from the National Housing Federation, 151 families in Chesterfield could face losing £555.90 a year each.

Bolsover could see the largest number of households affected with 1,692 set to lose £476.34 each a year.

In NE Derbyshire 1,512 families could lose £480.94 a year.

Cllr Betty Hill, NE Derbyshire District Council’s member for housing, said: “We are aware that the proposed changes in the Welfare Reform Bill will have significant implications for vulnerable people in the district which, like most areas of the country, does suffer from a shortage of suitable rented accommodation.

“The council and Rykneld Homes are working closely together to fully understand the effect of the proposed welfare changes on tenants and residents and what we can do to mitigate any negative impact.”

Experts warned that families face falling into debt or being forced to move home – even though there is a desperate shortage of social housing.

Chris Hobson, East Midlands lead manager for the National Housing Federation, said: “We have been deeply concerned about this bedroom tax for some time.

“Penalising East Midlands families for under-occupying when they have nowhere to move to is unfair and unjust.”

In December, the House of Lords backed a cross-party amendment to exempt families with just one additional bedroom where there were no alternative properties for them to move to.

“We urge Ministers to accept the amendment,” Mr Hobson added.

Ministers argue it is unfair to subsidise people living in properties that are too large while thousands of people remain on housing waiting lists or are forced to live in overcrowded homes

l What do you think about the so called bedroom tax? Will it affect you? Email comment@derbyshiretimes.co.uk.

julia.rodgerson@derbyshiretimes.co.uk