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Tenants on low incomes in Central Bedfordshire are among the worst hit in the region as a result of the new bedroom tax which comes into force on April 1, according to a new report out today (March 6).
Those with disabilities will be particularly affected under the Government’s new Welfare Reform rules.
The report from the National Housing Federation shows that nearly 2,000 will lose as much as 25% of their housing benefit as they are deemed to be under-occupying their home.
Aileen Evans, Managing Director of local social housing provider Aragon Housing Association, said: “The bedroom tax is now widely viewed as a flawed policy and one which discriminates against disabled people of working age in a way which is going to have a dramatic or devastating effect on many of their lives.
“We are doing everything we can to provide our customers with support but at the end of the day they know they are going to be the ones who are going to have to find ways of meeting this shortfall in their income imposed by the Government.”
Under the Government’s new bedroom tax 50,000 people in the East will lose an average of £640 a year in Housing Benefit if they have one ‘spare’ bedroom in their council or housing association home and £1,144 a year if they have two or more1.
About 31,5002 of those affected are disabled and if the Government’s Discretionary Housing Payments fund was shared equally among disabled people hit by the tax they would each receive as little as £1.21 a week from the Government through Discretionary Housing Payments3 to cover the shortfall - compared to the average £14 a week loss in housing benefit4.
According to the Federation’s estimates, the 10 East of England areas that will see the greatest number of people affected by the bedroom tax will be5:
Estimated number of people affected
Estimated average annual loss for 1 extra bedroom
Estimated average annual loss for 2 extra bedrooms
Estimated number of people with a disability affected
East of England
The bedroom tax affects all working-age housing benefit claimants who are deemed to have one or more extra bedrooms in their council or housing association home.This includes separated parents who share the care of their children, families where young children have a small bedroom each, foster carers, and disabled people who have their home specially adapted for their needs.
Claire Astbury, East of England lead manager for the National Housing Federation says:
‘The Government’s bedroom tax is flawed and will unfairly penalise thousands of people in the East of England who have lived in their homes for years, raised families and contributed to their communities.
‘The ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach takes no account of disabled people’s adapted homes, of foster parents who need rooms to take children in, or of parents sharing custody who will lose the room for their child at weekends.
‘In most areas, there just aren’t enough smaller affordable homes for these families to move into to avoid the tax. Many people will find themselves having to move into more expensive privately rented properties - adding to the overall housing benefit bill.
‘The bedroom tax shows just how detached Ministers are from the lives of families who will be hit. The high housing benefit bill is because there are not enough affordable homes, so the best way to cut the bill is to build more.’
The National Housing Federation is calling on the Government to repeal this ill-conceived policy, but at the very least right now it must exempt disabled and other vulnerable people from these cuts before it comes into effect on 1st April.
For more information please contact:Sarah Walker, Communications ManagerGrand Union Housing GroupTel: 01525 844557Fax: 01234 752112Email: firstname.lastname@example.org