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Sunday, 21 December 2014

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£685k paid out to Cumbrians struggling to cope with 'bedroom tax'

The Government has doled out almost £685,000 to hard-up Cumbrians struggling to cope with the financial fallout of the “bedroom tax” and recent benefits cuts.

Lee Sherriff photo
Lee Sherriff

Lee Sherriff , the Labour councillor who hopes to become Carlisle’s next MP, says the figure proves that the reforms are costing the country money rather than saving it.

The figures have been released by the Department for Work and Pensions to show the extent of support being offered to those affected by welfare reforms in the year to April. Those tenants with a spare room who face particular hardship because their benefits have been reduced are entitled to apply for discretionary housing payments – and most of the money paid out was in that form.

The figure for Carlisle shows the amount paid out was £141,996. In Allerdale, it was £123,162, while in Copeland £94,150. The highest amount paid out was in Eden – £154,454.

Commenting on the spending, Harraby Carlisle city councillor Ms Sherriff said: “These figures suggest that these welfare reforms are not saving in the long-term at all. Yet the changes and the Bedroom Tax are hurting the most vulnerable people. I work in mental health and I’ve seen a few of my clients who are being affected by the Bedroom Tax, which is causing them unnecessary stress and anxiety. It’s pushing people too far – people who were already struggling to pay their bills.”

Many of the applications for discretionary grants are made for tenants to Carlisle City Council by social landlord Riverside.

From April 2013, to March this year, Riverside made 349 applications, of which 203 were successful, claiming £64,000 in discretionary housing payments. "This has prevented many of our tenants from going into arrears," said a spokeswoman.

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