Northern tenants to be hit for £146m with reforms
Plans to penalise 240,000 families across the North of England for renting a home with a spare room will cost social housing tenants £146.12 million a year, the National Housing Federation has claimed.
According to the NHF, the North will be the hardest hit by the government’s proposed Welfare Reform Bill to be introduced in 2013, with a large number of working age social housing tenants on housing benefit losing an average of £676 a year due to a ‘spare bedroom tax’.
Under the proposals, social housing tenants with one spare bedroom will have a choice of moving or having their housing benefit cut by 13 per cent, rising to a 23 per cent cut for two or more spare bedrooms. It will apply to all social housing tenants of working age in receipt of housing benefit.
Two-thirds of the people to be targeted by the changes are disabled, and foster carers will also be hit as foster children occupying additional bedrooms will not count as part of the household for the purpose of housing benefit.
The NHF has launched a week of action against the proposed changes to welfare, encouraging people to write to their MPs.
Derek Long, assistant director of the National Housing Federation in the North, said: ‘Tens of thousands of the poorest families across the region face a Hobson’s choice if these proposals go ahead: move out to a smaller home if they can find one or stay put and live in hardship or debt.
‘The very people the government should be helping during these tough economic times – the disabled, foster carers and families – are exactly the people who will be hammered.
‘Meanwhile, housing associations depend on guaranteed rental income to help fund desperately needed new housing. By cutting housing benefit to ‘under-occupiers’ Northern housing associations will lose money and less new homes will be built as a result.’