'Bedroom tax' warning for thousands of social housing tenants
Wednesday 10 October 2012
Thousands of Coventry social housing tenants could find themselves having to find extra rent money as part of government cuts to Housing Benefit.
New rules from April next year state that working age social housing tenants considered as under-occupying their homes will face a reduction in their Housing Benefit.
It means that those affected will have to pay the difference in increased payments for rent although the changes will not affect pensioners.
Nationally, it is estimated that 670,000 households face losing between 14 and 25 per cent of their Housing Benefit for living in a council or housing association home that is judged to have more bedrooms than they need.
Whitefriars Housing, Coventry's largest social housing provider, estimates that more than 2,300 of its customers will potentially be affected by the move.
Coventry City Council, which administers Housing Benefit in the city, is in the process of sending out letters on this welfare reform this month.
But Councillor Ed Ruane, Coventry City Council's Cabinet Member for Housing, believes many people are unaware of the imminent changes and the financial impact it will have.
He said: "These changes effectively mean a new 'bedroom tax' which will turn a spare bedroom into a very expensive luxury.
"The penalty is about 14% deducted from Housing Benefit which will mean effectively a tax of £728 a year.
"This is three and a half times the winter fuel payment, to put it into perspective. The impact this tax will have, particularly on vulnerable households in these harsh economic times will be devastating.
"I know social landlords such as Whitefriars are doing all they can to make sure that tenants realise what will happen in just six months time.
"If people cannot pay the extra it means tenants could have to relocate to find suitable smaller properties."
Councillor Ruane added: "One of the things the Government does not seem to realise is that this is not just social housing, it is people's homes."
Any social housing tenant receiving Housing Benefit who is concerned about the changes are urged to contact their social landlord as soon as possible.
Whitefriars Housing has put together a useful video with information on changes to the benefit system:
Notes for editors
The new Housing Benefit changes allow one bedroom for the following:
* Every adult/couple
* A single person aged 16 or over
* Any two children of the same sex aged under 16
* Any two children of any sex aged 10 or under
* Any other child aged under 16
* A non-resident's overnight care.