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'Bedroom tax' should be scrapped in Cumbria, says new report

The 'bedroom tax' should be scrapped in Cumbria and controversial benefits cuts are costing the county £138 million a year.

James Newcome photo
The Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev James Newcome

They are among the findings of an inquiry set up to investigate the impact of the Government’s welfare reforms.

A report released today also reveals the human fallout of cost-cutting changes, confirming they are forcing some families into financial crisis.

Members of the Cumbria Commission on Welfare Reform – led by the Bishop of Carlisle – are now involved in talks to stop people’s suffering and find a new way forward.

They say the Government’s 'bedroom tax', which cuts benefits, sometimes by as much as 25 per cent, for those deemed to have too many bedrooms, makes no sense in the county, where there are few major overcrowding issues. They argue that it is difficult to justify enforcing house size rules here.

And they found the under-occupancy charge, as it is officially known, had caused “considerable hardship” and was among the “unintended consequences” of wider reforms.

The commission has recommended that decisions should be taken on an area-by-area basis to decide in which parts of the country the charge, estimated to affect about 5,900 households in Cumbria, is needed.

In the report’s foreword, the Rt Rev James Newcome said: “We concluded that the bedroom tax, although potentially relevant in other parts of the country, has no rationale in Cumbria.”

And the full document goes further, adding: “Its scrapping would be wholly beneficial here.”

In its 101-page report, the commission, whose panel members included experts in health, welfare and community work, recommend the payment of weekly and fortnightly benefits are maintained rather than a move to monthly ones.

The report also urges a change in assessments for disability benefits to reduce delays in payment, for the Department of Work and Pensions to reduce delays and pressures and for an action plan to be drawn up to monitor how improvements are being made.

The report was commissioned by the Cumbria Third Sector Network. It can be downloaded here

Full story in today's The Cumberland News

Have your say

The bedroom tax is a joke and getting family's into debt. People on benefits have little enough to live on without adding to it. It's just another way of getting money out of people regardless of the stress it causes.

Posted by Carol Blair on 14 March 2015 at 14:16

Lib Dems now say the bedroom tax is not fair and is not working.No surprise there then.

Posted by ian on 17 July 2014 at 19:40

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Is The Autumn Statement good news for Cumbria?

Yes - the enterprise zone jobs and airport flights are a fantastic boost

It's more positive than expected but could have been better

I agree with Jamie Reed, it is all smoke and mirrors

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