Eviction threat for Brent residents hit by ‘bedroom tax’

Cllr Janice Long

Cllr Janice Long - Credit: Archant

Council can’t rule out people losing their homes even though they don’t have enough ‘downsize’ properties

Residents hit by the controversial “bedroom tax” policy could face eviction despite a shortage of properties which would enable them to downsize.

According to Cllr Janice Long, Brent Council’s lead member for housing, a lack of funds stops the town hall from helping the most affected tenants. If people fall into huge rent arrears, evictions cannot be ruled out.

Under the new measures, which come into force next week, anyone living in social housing who is in receipt of housing benefit faces a reduction in what they receive if they are deemed to have one or more spare bedrooms.

If a tenant has one spare room, their benefit is cut by 14 per cent but this is increased to 25 per cent if they have two or more.

An estimated 2,400 residents in Brent will be affected by the changes.

Those who cannot afford the rent will be expected to downsize their property, but with a housing shortage sweeping the capital it is feared families could lose their homes or be re-housed outside London.

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Cllr Long said: “We haven’t got the funds to guarantee no evictions as we are one of the worst affected by benefit caps.We will do what we can but people have to want to help themselves as well.”

In recent weeks both Brighton and Dundee councils announced they would not evict anyone who had “nowhere else to go”. The move was echoed by Labour run Islington Council last week.

But Cllr Long has said Brent is not in a position to be making guarantees.

She added: “Evictions will be a long time in the future and we will do what we can to avoid them in the meantime.

“People will be given lots of opportunities and offered financial advice but sadly there are people who don’t want to listen – we will take each case as it comes.”

The government has announced some changes to the scheme after facing criticism.

Severely disabled children who need their own room will be exempt from bedroom tax as will families with children in the army, and foster carers.

Will you be affected by the changes and efforts to downsize have proved fruitless? If so call the news desk on 020 7433 6244 or email max.walters@archant.co.uk.