May 23 2013 Latest news:
Lorraine King, News editor
Monday, March 4, 2013
Social housing tenants face a rent shortfall if they have spare bedrooms
From April 1 any social housing tenants of working age will be affected by the changes to Housing Benefit payments if they have a spare bedroom.
The new criteria allows one bedroom for each person or couple in a household.
Children under the age of 16 and of the same gender will be expected to share a bedroom.
Children under 10 are also expected to share regardless of gender.
A disabled tenant or partner who needs a non-resident overnight carer will be allowed an extra room.
Those who are deemed to have one spare bedroom will have their HB slashed by 14 per cent.
Anyone with two or more spare bedrooms will have a 25 per cent reduction in their payments.
More than 2,000 families in Brent face paying more rent or moving out of their homes when the controversial bedroom tax is rolled out next month.
According to figures from the National Housing Federation, 2,406 households will be hit by the Government clampdown on social housing tenants who have a spare bedroom.
Under the measures, which have been slammed by housing charities, tenants in receipt of Housing Benefit who have one of more spare bedrooms will have their payments slashed from April 1.
Brent tenants with one spare bedroom could be left with an average rent shortfall of £811 a year and those with two or more spare rooms could be left with a financial blackhole of £1,449.
The scheme has attracted further criticism following claims that it fails to take into consideration disabled tenants living in specially adapted properties, foster parents who need an additional room for any children placed in their care, or mothers and fathers who have shared custody of their children but are not the primary custodial parent.
The NHF statistics claim £1,516 disabled residents in Brent will be affected by the changes.
The government has set up a £30m fund to help disabled residents and foster carers to make up their rent shortfall however Michelle Smith, London lead manager for NHF, said the system is unfair.
She said: “The Government’s bedroom tax is flawed and will unfairly penalise thousands of people across Brent who have lived in their homes for years, raised families and contributed to their communities.
“In most areas, there just aren’t enough smaller affordable homes for these families to move into to avoid the tax. Many people will find themselves having to move into more expensive privately rented properties - adding to the overall housing benefit bill.”
A Department and Working Pensions spokesman said: “Councils have been given an extra £155m this year so that they can help their vulnerable tenants, with £30m specifically targeted towards supporting disabled people who have modified their homes and foster carers.
“We need to ensure a better use of social housing when over a quarter of a million tenants are living in overcrowded homes and two million are on housing waiting lists.”
However Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council, said the government is doing too little too late.
He added: “The money that has been provided is no where near enough to help our residents and in addition they haven’t built enough social housing in Brent.”