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Bedroom tax will help 12,000 families on Cumbrian waiting lists says Government minister

A top Government minister said the controversial bedroom tax will help more than 12,000 families who are on social housing waiting lists in Cumbria.

Iain Duncan Smith photo
Iain Duncan Smith

Iain Duncan Smith, the works and pensions secretary, spoke out after some of the county’s leaders blasted the impending tax that will see people have to pay around an extra £14 a week if they live in a house with more bedrooms than people.

On Monday night, Copeland council leader Elaine Woodburn staged a night-time vigil along with seven other volunteers, raising £21,000 for Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

She believes that the CAB will be drastically hit with extra workload when the bedroom tax comes into force next month. Last week Labour revealed that 6,147 people living in the county will be affected by the tax.

Mr Duncan Smith said there are 12,048 households in Cumbria on a waiting list for social housing and it is a “big problem that needs addressing.”

In the north west there is 25,000 households living in overcrowded homes.

“There’s nothing fair about making families wait and wait for a house that is big enough, while other households on benefits are allowed to live in homes that are too big for their needs, at no extra cost,” said Mr Duncan Smith.

He added that many working families in the county can’t afford the “luxury” of having spare bedrooms and the Government can’t afford to pay for bedrooms that are not being used.

And that, he said, is why housing benefit claimants living in social housing with spare bedrooms will be expected to make a contribution towards the rent for those spare rooms from April.

On average the extra charge will be £14 a week for people with spare bedrooms. Mr Duncan Smith said people may get job, or work extra hours, to meet the costs where others will want to move to more “appropriately-sized” accommodation or take in a lodger.

“This change will bring housing benefit for social housing claimants in line with what happens in the private sector already,” he said.

“But more fundamentally, ending the Spare Room Subsidy will help us get a better grip of our social housing – and give hope to those households in Cumbria who are currently squeezed into overcrowded homes.

“Of course there will be situations where it would not make sense for people to move, or where personal circumstances mean that extra support will be necessary. That’s why we have given £155 million to local authorities to help with these cases.”

Have your say

as a solicitor i would argue the spare bedroom is not spare and not a bedroom.

as someone who used to have renal failure and may yet have to return to a kidney machine i am making enquries about a possible legal challenge.

my understanding is that if it is not exempt it could be cos

costs nhs over a £1k to install at a your home

the costly plumbing for a mains water supply to run a machine means it cannot be a "bedroom"- more like a second bathroom.

it cannot be "spare" cos every other day the patient has to be connected up to it for at least 5 hours each session

so it can never be used by anyone to use as a bedroom

social landlords may well allow the machine's installation as tenant has some security of tenure.

private landlords would be very unlikey to allow- tenant has usually only 6 months security of tenure- this is what the government expects the tenant to do- move to private sector.

this would mean dialysis sessions would have to be held at more expensive hospital units.

Posted by mick on 7 April 2013 at 00:15

Jen not sure Peace Protests work in this country anymore, needs to be a Revolution more like! Many will soon be on streets and shop doorways starving, some already are.

Posted by Pete on 29 March 2013 at 13:27

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