Help is at hand from A1 Housing Advice Team

Bassetlaw tenants met with MP John Mann, district councillors and A1 Housing chiefs to discuss how the Bedroom Tax affects them.

Monday, 22nd April 2013, 5:00 pm
MP John Mann talks to local residents to find out how they are being affected by the bedroom tax, pictured are residents with John Mann MP, A1 Housing managing director Bernard Coleman, Mark Ladyman, BDC and Coun Alan Chambers. (w130404-1a)

The group met at Retford Town Hall on 4th April to see how their lives stand to be affected since the welfare reforms came into effect at the beginning of the month.

Under the new ‘bedroom tax’ rules, council or housing association tenants of working age whose homes don’t match their family size will see their Housing Benefit cut by up to 25 per cent.

Government ministers predict that the changes will help cut the £23bn annual bill for housing benefit, free up more living space for overcrowded families, and encourage people to get jobs.

The changes mean a typical single person living in a two bed property will have to pay £9.10 extra a week, while a family of four paying £80 per week rent will see their benefits cut by £11.20.

Bassetlaw portfolio holder for housing Coun Alan Chambers said a bedroom tax is a ‘disaster’ for those affected.

“I firmly believe that they will be faced with a choice of either putting food on the table or paying their rent.

“As a district council we will be doing everything we can to support those forced into hardship with support and advice from dedicated money and welfare advisors and, in extreme cases, discretionary payments.”

Tracy Ellis, of Walkeringham, who is forced to find an extra £54 a month over welfare reform changes, said she has ‘real fears’ her family will become homeless.

Mrs Ellis, 44 who has lived with husband Raymond, 49, in their council home for 20 years, said the impact of the changes is already starting to hit. The couple must now find £45 extra month to cover the cost of their spare room and £9 to pay for the cut in their Council Tax Benefit.

Said Mrs Ellis: “It’s getting to the stage where we choose between paying rent or putting food on the table.”

“It’s a lot of money to find each month when we were already struggling to pay the bills each month.”

She added: “My husband is disabled and struggling to find work - this is only going to get worse when the changes to Universal Credit come in.”

“Our son is at university trying to make a better life for himself, but the Government is making it hard.”

“I have signed the petition to see if Iain Duncan Smith can live on £53 a week. “I think the government are totally out of the touch with the people living in the very communities they are making these changes in.”