Alford couple’s anger at ‘unfair’ bedroom tax

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A disabled man and his wife are outraged at the government after being stung with a tax on their spare bedroom, which they claim is too small to legally sub-let.

Neil and Julie Pearson feel it is unfair that the room in their Alford home, which measures less than 70 square feet, means they must pay the Bedroom Tax, launched on Monday.

According to the Housing Act 1983, rooms smaller than 70 square feet are only suitable for ‘half a person’ or a child under five, which leaves the Pearsons little option of sub-letting it, as the government recommends to help cover their tax.

“I can’t rent it to a child or to half a person, so what are we supposed to do?” Julie said.

“My argument is that the government is asking us to rent a room that it says is not fit for purpose.

“I think it’s really unfair, I can see it working for certain circumstances but they are not looking into people’s individual situation.”

The Pearsons moved into the specially adapted New Linx property last year after Neil‘s shoulder was damaged during surgery to remove a tumour from his neck, leaving him with mobility problems.

Julie says the stress caused by this extra tax burden, totalling around £11 a week, is affecting both of them and doesn’t know where to turn.

“I’ve worked all my life, I’ve always paid full rent and full council tax, so I’m absolutely livid that the one time we need the government’s assistance, they do this to use,” she said.

Director of operations at New Linx Jack Wyman has explained that the Housing Act figures are a ‘misnomer’ as there are no statutory regulations governing bedroom size.

He says that any bedroom, whether child-size or otherwise, is covered by the new tax, leaving the Pearsons little way out of it.

And with approximately 60 per cent of all the residents the tax is likely to affect classed as disabled, he also fears they will be unable to gain special dispensation from East Lindsey District Council because of their circumstances.

Around 1,000 of New Linx’s 7,000 properties are expected to be stung by the Bedroom Tax, which Mr Wyman believes will cause ‘great difficulties’

“Lots of people are already struggling to heat their homes or to pay for food, so anything extra is going to cause problems,” he said.

“If they don’t pay their rent, we’ve got to chase them and some people may lose their homes.”

Only three per cent of tenants surveyed said they would look to take on a lodger to cover the additional costs, with most saying they would look for extra work or make savings elsewhere.

New Linx is working to help its tenants manage their finances better, but fears the introduction of Universal Credit in October will cause even more problems when benefit claimants receive their payments monthly rather than fortnightly.