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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

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‘Spare room tax’ blow for housing tenants across Cumbria

Housing associations have warned that thousands of tenants will see their benefits hit when the ‘spare room tax’ comes into effect.

Riverside in Carlisle and Impact Housing in Workington have begun working with tenants to prepare for the legislation which comes into force next April.

Under the Government plans, those of working age who are deemed to be “under occupying” a property will have their housing benefits slashed by up to 25 per cent.

If the Housing Benefit Assessment establishes a tenant as “under occupying” they will have their benefits reduced by 14 per cent of the overall rent for one-bedroom, and 25 per cent for more than two.

Workington MP Tony Cunningham described the plans as “absolute madness”. He said: “People could have lived in their homes for a considerable amount of time.

“It’s their home and where all of their memories are and where they could have brought up their children.

“To have to choose from moving or having their benefits reduced is totally unacceptable.

“I have had people come to my surgery with concerns because as soon as this goes through, they are going to have to make that choice.”

Under the rules, one bedroom is allowed for each adult couple; any other person aged 16 or over; children of the same sex under the age of 16; two children regardless of sex under the age of 10; any other child; or a claimant if the claimant or their partner requires overnight care.

One of the groups of people that will be affected are separated parents, where one of them has children staying over a couple of times a week.

Keith Dobson, director of assets and homes with Impact Housing, said: “The proposal means that a single divorced man who wants a spare room so that his child can stay at weekends will have his housing benefit cut by 14 per cent.

“Say the rent is £70 per week he will have to find £9.80 out of his own money to fund the deficit.”

“This is not Impact charging people for additional bedrooms, far from it.

“We are trying hard to keep our rents as low as possible so that tenants on benefits can stay without getting into debt.

“It is the Government restricting how much they will pay for tenants they deem to be under occupying.”

Mr Cunningham said: “Its so important for a child to have contact with their mum or dad – they need that.”

Nadine O’Connor, campaign director for Fathers 4 Justice, said it was another “kick in the teeth” for single fathers, adding that the legislation was “discriminatory”.

Many single fathers claiming housing benefits face a choice between finding the extra cash or moving into a smaller place.

All working age housing benefit claimants will be assessed to establish the size of accommodation they are deemed to reasonably need.

The measure is the only element in the Welfare Reform Act 2012 affecting social landlords like Impact, Riverside and Derwent and Solway.

Have your say

Well said Hug a Hoodie Dave and Bailey. Get your priorities right before howling poverty.

Posted by Bob1 on 26 March 2013 at 20:39

this is dafet i have grandkids visit weekends 4 of them what can i do

Posted by robert anders on 26 March 2013 at 12:19

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