Bedroom tax leads to big rise in Cumbrians needing cash help
Published at 16:36, Tuesday, 27 August 2013
Ten times as many people have gone to Allerdale council for cash to help cover rents since the bedroom tax came in.
More than 250 people went to the council for emergency payments – known as Discretionary Housing Payments in just three months this year – equivalent to a 929 per cent rise on the same period last year.
More than half of the 251 people who requested help received payments – with 142 payouts totalling £38,000.
Allerdale council is blaming the new under occupancy rule, or “bedroom tax”, introduced by the Government earlier this year, for the alarming rise in requests.
The rule means that people who claim housing benefit but have spare bedrooms in their homes will have their benefits reduced.
But the council is hoping that it will not have to dip into any of its own cash to help those in need, as a Government grant of £121,124 for the year is expected to cover costs.
The council said that just over 31 per cent of the allocated cash has been used, five months into the year. The maximum amount Allerdale can spend in the current financial year is £302,810.
Councillor Phil Tibble, executive member for customer and regulatory services, said that as well as people inquiring for help due to welfare reforms, people are also “finding it very hard at the moment to make ends meet”.
“The strong message we want to put out on behalf of the council, and the many partners we work with who can offer advice about debt, is that we are here to help – not just to get involved with enforcing the new rules. If we can’t help directly, the chances are that we know someone who can.”
A report will be presented to Allerdale’s scrutiny panel on Friday to highlight the impact of the under occupancy rule.
The purpose of the review is to gather evidence from social housing providers to see if they have any plans to build more one-bedroom properties, to help with the bedroom tax.
The figures come after it was revealed earlier this month how nearly 800 people have turned to west Cumbria’s foodbank for help in just four months.
The North Lakes Foodbank, which covers Allerdale and Copeland, said 789 families have been given vouchers for the foodbank scheme since April 1 this year.
The woman behind the scheme, Jessie Hendry, said they were seeing a “100 per cent increase year-on-year” since starting just three years ago.
“It’s a continuous rise and we’re growing dramatically,” she said.
Jessie said two tonnes of food was given to people in crisis in Copeland and Allerdale each month. The main reasons for crisis are benefit delays, benefit changes and low income.
- More than 250 families in Carlisle have asked for payments to help cover their rent since the bedroom tax came in.
Figures show a 391 per cent increase in people asking for Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) in just three months alone compared to the same period last year.
So far, £31,0859 has been paid by the city council to 139 families between April and July.
According to a spokeswoman for the city council, the DHP grants are available to housing benefits claimants who are having trouble paying their rent either due to the under occupancy rule – which has been dubbed by critics as the bedroom tax – or other reasons.
The maximum amount that Carlisle can spend on DHPs during the current financial year is £356,600 with the Government meeting the first £142,640.
Councillor Robert Betton, who represents the Botcherby ward and last week took part in a protest against the bedroom tax, said things would only get worse.
He added: “It’s a massive problem, it really is. Where is the money supposed to come from? It is due to people not being able to pay – what they have had has been taken away from them. It is going to get worse.”
Mr Betton said he had spoken to many residents who had told him that they were struggling and there were not many smaller properties to move into to avoid being hit financially. He added: “There are going to be a lot more people looking for somewhere smaller to live.”
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk
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"all in this together" was the phrase, i think not its not us sitting in parliment with our tans from foreign holidays, we are making do with our minimum wage jobs that we are lucky to have, its not just the unemployed suffering from the bedroom tax
Sheila, I hope you have the same feelings towards greedy bankers and hedge fund dabblers who led us to believe we should spend , spend, spend without thinking of the consequences, should they be included ?Workshy is an easy word to use to describe certain people who wont work, however this word is also used to describe people who can't work or can't get work.The country as you say is in a 'financial mess,' the buck should not stop at the poorest people in society.
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