626 homes lose £728 a year to ‘bedroom tax’

Hundreds of High Peak homes will be hit by the Government’s new ‘bedroom tax’ according to figures released by the National Housing Federation.

Welfare reforms, which come into effect in April, will see 626 homes in the High Peak have their benefits slashed by an average of £728 per year.

The reforms reduce the amount of housing benefit distributed to claimants who are considered to have a spare bedroom.

Caitlin Bisknell, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for the High Peak, has struck out against the changes.

She commented: “David Cameron’s ‘bedroom tax’ will hammer families in High Peak already struggling to make ends meet, and actually risks costing local tax–payers more in higher private rents and covering the cost of driving people out of their homes.

“Locally we know that around 400 households in High Peak Community Housing stock face being hit by the ‘bedroom tax’ with around 300 needing to move into a smaller property or face a rent increase of 14 per cent or 25 per cent depending on the number of bedrooms.

“High Peak Community Housing has no unallocated properties at the moment – and a waiting list of 5639, yet we only have 4089 properties to let.

“National Housing Federation figures suggest that figure is higher still, around 626, when housing association tenants are included.”

High Peaks MP Andrew Bingham pointed out that the welfare reforms were not a ‘tax’, as they have been commonly referred to, as money is not actually being taken away from people in the form of a tax.

He explained: “The problem is that we have got so many spare bedrooms up and down the country where people are having housing benefit paid, living in three bedroom houses and only using two of them, and we have got other families who can’t find a council property big enough for them. It’s all about fairness.”

He said under the Labour government the same thing happened with private sector housing and the current government is simply evening it out.

“At the moment there is an inequality,” Andrew added.

He said some people were excluded from the changes, such as pensioners.

Andrew added that local authorities could provide assistance to people such as foster carers and Armed Forces personnel, whose homes are not always fully occupied, through the Discretionary Housing Payment fund.