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Bedroom tax will force one in five to move, says Cumbrian housing association

A housing association has spoken out about controversial benefit changes which are due to come in from April.

More than 1,000 Cumbrian tenants of Riverside Housing Association will be hit by the changes.

People of working age who are deemed to be “under occupying” – living in a home with more bedrooms than the Government says they need – will have housing benefit slashed by up to 25 per cent.

Someone deemed to have two “spare” bedrooms would be £1,300 a year worse off.

Riverside, which manages Carlisle’s former council houses, reports that one in five of its affected tenants has requested a move to a smaller property.

And the changes have led to renewed interest in one-bedroom units, which Riverside has been demolishing because tenants didn’t want them.

There has even been a call for the housing association to take over Carlisle’s derelict Central Plaza Hotel to convert into one-bedroom units.

A Riverside spokeswoman said: “We have identified that 1,047 of our residents will be under-occupying their homes and will be affected by the changes in housing benefit. We have contacted them and have identified that 21 per cent want to downsize. These include people who require one, two or three-bedroom homes. We are working to support our tenants during this time of change.”

Under the new rules, one bedroom is allowed for each adult couple or single person.

Children under 16 of the same sex are expected to share a room, as are children regardless of sex under 10.

The changes will hit separated parents where one accommodates children overnight in a spare room.

Riverside tenant Simon Butterfield, of Ellesmere Way, Morton Park, is calling for the housing association to consider conversion of the Central Plaza Hotel in Victoria Viaduct.

The grade-II listed building has stood empty since 2004.

Carlisle City Council entered it last year to carry out emergency repairs after serving notice on the owner.

Mr Butterfield, who sits on Riverside’s income collection focus group, said: “There isn’t anything for tenants who want a one-bedroom property and we have tenants who want to move to avoid paying extra. If the Central Plaza could be converted, it would be ideal for younger tenants.

“They wouldn’t mind the noise of being in the city centre and, if they already work in the centre, it would be more convenient and save on transport costs.”

However, Rebecca Kenvyn, Riverside’s development project manager, said the housing association had “no plans” to look at the Central Plaza.

And divisional director Patrick Leonard said its plans were driven by housing policy – not welfare policy. Therefore there were no proposals for one-bedroom flats.

He added: “Riverside is committed to providing affordable homes in Cumbria. We have delivered 200 new homes since 2010. Our current business plan includes our commitment and funding to deliver a further 89 homes.

“These will provide a mixture of two and three-bedroom homes for rent and shared ownership.

“We do not have any current plans to build one-bedroom accommodation.”

Have your say

I think this is a good idea maybe then I will get a bigger house I need having shared a room with my teenage daughter for the last seven yrs when there's family's with way younger kids in bigger houses and don't even use the extra bedroom so I think it is fair

Posted by Anon on 17 March 2013 at 12:24

@spitfire well said but you will be exempt :)

Posted by nelly on 12 March 2013 at 20:35

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