More than 700 council tenants in the Louth and Horncastle constituency face paying more rent or moving home under the new ‘bedroom tax’.
According to figures from the National Housing Federation, 716 households living in social housing will lose out if they are deemed to have ‘spare’ bedrooms under the government’s latest welfare reform on April 1.
Despite being dubbed the ‘bedroom tax’, the government insists the change is not a ‘new tax’ and that it will help cut the £23bn annual housing benefit bill, freeing up more space for families in overcrowded homes.
The NHF figures suggest working-age tenants deemed to have a spare bedroom could be forced to pay an extra £545 in annual rent, and those with two or more spare bedrooms would pay an extra £973.
NHF chief executive David Orr said: “‘This perverse tax is doing exactly what the Government promised it wouldn’t – hitting the most vulnerable people in our society.
“They are being penalised for a weak housing policy that for years has failed to build enough affordable homes and reduce the housing benefit bill.
“The bedroom tax is ill-thought, unfair and will force thousands of people to cut back further on food and other expenses in order to stay in their own homes.
“It 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.
“It is also incompetent as it will cost the nation money rather than saving it.
“The government must repeal this ill-conceived policy, but at the very least right now it must exempt disabled and other vulnerable people from these cuts.”
“Our experience so far is that very few of our residents think that taking in a lodger is an option for them”
Jack Whyman, operations director for New Linx Housing Trust (part of Waterloo Housing Group), who operate social housing across Lincolnshire, said: “We are currently visiting the residents we have identified as likely to be affected by the welfare reform changes, to give advice and details of the options they have to cope with the changes.
“We estimate that around 1,000 residents in Lincolnshire may be affected by the ‘bedroom tax’.
“For example, we are highlighting that the planned ‘bedroom tax’ rules will affect more than just residents with children.
“It is also likely to impact on those who need to sleep in a separate bedroom due to disabilities or medical conditions – but anyone over the pension credit age is unaffected.
“Our experience so far is that very few of our residents think that taking in a lodger is an option for them.
“Most suggest they will look for work to find the extra money needed to cover the shortfall in housing benefit.
“But many customers are still considering how they will respond to the changes.
“For more information and advice about how to prepare for the planned welfare reform changes, I would encourage our residents to go to our dedicated website at www.talk2waterloo.org.uk”
An East Lindsey District Council spokesman added: “We have been working closely with housing providers for a number of months to identify and write to those people who could be affected by the changes to government legislation.
“All those identified have been contacted to inform them of the situation and explaining that advice can be sought from the Citizens’ Advice Bureau.”
What do you make of the ‘bedroom tax’? Are you affected? Comment using the comments box below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.