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MP Joan Walley warns of Bedroom Tax

Councillor_Kyle_Robinson_Joan_Walley_MP

Butt Lane Councillor Kyle Robinson and MP Joan Walley angered by the unfair bedroom tax.

Joan Walley MP has today revealed National Housing Federation figures which show 1295 Stoke north and Kidsgrove residents will be hit by the government’s ‘Bedroom Tax’ losing on average £728 per year.The Bedroom Tax will hit 660,000 households, two thirds of them home to someone with a disability, at exactly the same time as the Government gives a massive £100,000 tax cut to 13,000 millionaires.

Joan said:

“David Cameron’s Bedroom Tax will hammer families in Stoke-on-Trent and Kidsgrove already struggling to make ends meet, and could actually risk costing tax-payers a fortune in higher private rents.  These ill thought out plans will hit hardest in the areas with the greatest need and show a blatant disregard for the most vulnerable people.

“The majority of the households hit are home to someone with a disability, and the families of soldiers and foster parents will also be hit. Yet at the same time prisoners get off and millionaires are getting a massive tax cut. How can that be right?”

Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne said:

“David Cameron’s April tax plan is simply not fair. From next month, 13,000 millionaires are getting a tax cut worth £100,000 a year on average while over 600,000 armed forces families, disabled people and foster carers have to find £728 a year to pay a new bedroom tax.

“Yet the plan is such a shambles that someone who’s been to prison on a short sentence won’t have to pay. How unfair is that? Millionaires and prisoners are looked after but vulnerable people, carers and armed forces families get hit.

“Labour plan relentless pressure on this out of touch government until Ministers see sense, admit this policy is totally unfair and think again.”

Bedroom Tax to Smash Kidsgrove

Bedroom_Tax_Kidsgrove

So what does the bedroom Tax mean for the people of Kidsgrove and Butt Lane?

Well where does one start!  The Bedroom Tax introduced by the Tory-LibDem Government will come into effect on Monday 1st April 2013.  The rules on how much Housing Benefit people receive will change. 

I do feel this vile attack on those most in need in our communities is what this Government is all about.  A lot of people rely on support because unemployment in Stoke and Staffordshire is so high.  There aren’t enough jobs and regularly I hear reports that hundreds of people apply for one position advertised.  Those who do have jobs around here are not paid a living wage and therefore still live below the poverty line.  People pay their bills, rent, council tax and any other living costs and are usually left with very little to spend on themselves or their families.  It’s a sad situation when you have to choose between paying rent and tax and putting food on the table and I know this happens. 

Most social housing in Kidsgrove and Butt Lane was built by the council after the war to house large families with most properties containing 3 bedrooms.  Under the new rules I believe the people of Kidsgrove and the rest of the Borough will be smashed by this unfair scheme and it will only further deepen social deprivation in our community!

I have always agreed that those who abuse the benefits system who are quite capable of working should be dealt with but that’s a small minority of people and not the wider community.  Hardworking families looking to get on in life now have to face another setback whilst the rich and greedy continue to get wealthier from our misfortune. 

Below I have listed how you could be affected and what you can do if you are.

If you rent your home from a ‘social landlord’ (e.g. Aspire Housing) and you are deemed to have more bedrooms than you need, your rent that is paid by Housing Benefit will reduce by:

 • 14% if your home has one bedroom which is considered to be under-occupied – an average reduction of £12 per week (£52 a month)

• 25% if you have two or more bedrooms that are considered under-occupied – an average reduction of £22 per week (£95 a month)

You will be affected if all the following apply:

  • You receive Housing Benefit
  • You rent your home from a local council, housing association or housing co-op
  • You are of working age (you and your partner are born after 5th October 1951)
  • And you are deemed to have one or more spare bedroom (see rules below)

Bedroom Occupancy Rules: you will receive Housing Benefit for:

  • One bedroom per couple or single adult
  • One bedroom per two children of the same sex until they reach 16
  • One bedroom per two children of the opposite sex who are both under 10

Children who have a main residence elsewhere (for example, because their parents live apart) cannot be counted as needing a bedroom at the secondary address. The bedrooms that they use at the secondary address will be counted as unoccupied.

The only exemptions are if:

  • You rent your home from a private landlord, or
  • You or your partner were born before 5th October 1951, or
  • You have a shared ownership property, or
  • You have recently been bereaved. You will be exempt for twelve months after your bereavement and your Housing Benefit will not be affected until then.

If you want to know how much Housing Benefit you will receive after 1 April, use the Government’s benefits calculator: http://www.gov.uk/benefits-adviser

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

1. Tell your local council if you feel that the number of bedrooms in your house, or the bedrooms that you need has not been calculated correctly. For example, if someone in the house has a disability, or a bedroom is too small for two children.  You can contact Newcastle Borough Council on: 01782 717717.

2. Apply to your local council for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP).  Whilst DHPs are not expected to be long term, they are supposed to help families affected by the Bedroom Tax who are experiencing financial hardship.  You can contact Newcastle Borough Council on: 01782 717717.

3. Consider taking a lodger.  The Government are encouraging social landlords to allow this. However, check the online Benefits Adviser above or seek advice about how the extra income would affect your Housing Benefit and other benefits.

4. Consider moving to a smaller property.  Ask your local council and housing associations if they have any smaller properties available and what grants you could claim to help with the costs of moving and re-decoration.  You can contact Aspire housing enquiries line on: 01782 635200.

5. Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or welfare rights advisor and seek advice about how best to manage your finances and any debts you may have.  You can contact the Newcastle and Kidsgrove Citizens Advice line on: 0844 499 4115.