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Thursday, 30 October 2014

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'Bedroom tax' blamed for surge in evictions across Carlisle

The bedroom tax is fuelling a surge in evictions across Carlisle, with around 80 cases coming before the courts every month.

Related: Carlisle mum: 'It's been absolutely horrendous'

In the last year, the legal advice charity Cumbria Law Centre has seen a 30 to 40 per cent rise in cases where hard-up tenants face the threat of losing their home.

The figure was released as Riverside, the city’s biggest social landlord, confirmed that last year it gave £64,000 in discretionary grants to those worst-hit by the “under-occupancy” charge.

“We’ve seen housing days at the County Court in Carlisle where there have been as many as 18 people having hearings,” said Pete Moran, from Cumbria Law Centre.

Yesterday’s court dealt with 16 repossession hearings, including that of a mum-of-two from Currock whose rent arrears have soared to £900 because of the tax.

Mr Moran said: “The people at these hearings are all facing the possibility of eviction. Not all housing days are of that magnitude. But overall there has been an increase in the number of people facing eviction compared to a year ago. It’s a rise of around 30 to 40 per cent.

“In about half of those cases, thebedroom tax is usually a key player.

“The discretionary housing payment is keeping the wolf from the door for a lot of people but it’s a temporary measure. The locally available funds for these payments will be less.

“Awareness of them will have increased so the available money will be stretched.”

Mr Moran said tenants were increasingly threatened by rent arrears, with some having to switch funds from other areas of spending.

In the first year since Government changes to the benefits system, Riverside Carlisle’s Money Advice Service has helped boost the amount tenants claimed.

The service helped 304 tenants claim over £350,000 – £70,000 more than the previous year.

Mark Gilbertson, Riverside’s tenancy services support officer, described the last 12 months as challenging. He said: “Welfare reform has had an impact on many of our tenants who previously got full housing benefits and as a result owed us rent for the first time. Those particularly affected included people with mental health issues, poor literacy and disabilities.

Riverside ran a large scale campaign targeting every household we thought would be affected.”

Cumbria Law Centre, which offers free legal advice, is on 01228 515129. The website is www.cumbrialawcentre.org.uk

Have your say

Those of you who support the bedroom tax should ask yourselves:

1) who caused the increase in housing benefit bill? Why, the banks, who lent excessively and created at least four housing bubbles and were bailed out to the tune of 375 billion.

2) two thirds of those affected are ill/disabled and many have adapted properties.

3) Many cannot afford the cost of moving.

4) The poorest in our country are being asked to pay disproportionately for the failures of the financial sector and their speculatory activity.

5) The policy has pushed people into insecure private sector renting that COSTS MORE!

6) only 5-6% of people affected have moved so far-so the policy is an utter failure causing random suffering and a bureaucratic nightmare for housing authorities.

Posted by Simonio on 29 June 2014 at 09:24

No Ian, I am NOT wrong at all. I am right and I am stating simple facts. You are wrong because 1. You keep calling it a "tax" which it is NOT and 2 You keep spouting that tiresome line that there are no properties yes there is. They may not be in the same area of the town but there is suitable properties. End of.

Posted by Christian on 27 June 2014 at 17:54

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