UP to 14,000 families across Lancashire could be hit by the Government’s controversial Bedroom Tax to the tune of £7.5million a year, it was revealed today.
Social housing tenants — whose benefits will be cut if they are deemed by Whitehall to have a spare bedroom — are being urged to seek urgent advice from their landlords.
The Government has introduced the Bedroom Tax as part of a raft of controversial changes to the benefits system.
From next April, working-age people will have their housing benefit cut if the Government considers them to have a ‘spare’ bedroom in their housing association or council home.
They’ll lose 14 per cent of the benefit for one ‘spare’ bedroom and 25 per cent for two or more ‘spare’ bedrooms. Nationally, housing association tenants are expected to lose £16 a week on average.
Judith Winterbourne, of Symphony Housing Group, which includes Con-tour Homes, Hyndburn Homes and Ribble Valley Homes, said: “There’s no getting away from the fact that the Bedroom Tax is going to be introduced in just a few months.
“The Government tries to portray those on benefits as people who want something for nothing.
“But there are tenants who have worked all their lives, have been made redundant through no fault of their own, and now have to rely on housing benefit. They will be penalised.
“They have lived in the same house, brought up their children there, paid their rent on time, and some are now going to be forced to move out.”
They are suffering because of something that is not of their making.
“The Bedroom Tax will impact on so many people — those on low incomes, the disabled, and people with severe health problems.
“Some rely on benefit to survive and it’s going to be cut.”
The Government’s criteria allows one bedroom for each person or couple in a household, but children under 16 of the same gender are expected to share, and children under 10 are expected to share, regardless of gender.
Nigel Fenton, general manager at Hyndburn Homes, added: “If you’re a tenant, you need to find out if you’re affected now so you can make the best decision for you and your family.
“There are lots of people waiting to provide you with information and support, but you need to contact your housing association. They might be able to help you increase your income, look for training or employment, or look at alternative options available to you.
“We believe there are still people who are not facing up to this, and it’s likely to be those people who are already struggling with multiple debts.”