‘Bedroom tax will hit poorest Worksop families hard’

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Around 600 familes in Worksop deemed to ‘under-occupy’ their homes will have to pay extra rent or downsize their property, from April this year.

Under the new ‘bedroom tax’ rules, council or housing association tenants of working age whose homes don’t match their family size will see their Housing Benefit cut by up to 25 per cent.

Government ministers predict that the changes will help cut the £23bn annual bill for housing benefit, free up more living space for overcrowded families, and encourage people to get jobs.

The changes mean a typical single person living in a two bed property will have to pay £9.10 extra a week, while a family of four paying £80 per week rent will see their benefits cut by £11.20.

Strict criteria will apply about children sharing bedrooms, and couples sleeping in separate rooms due to disabilities or illness will be classed as under-occupiers.

Bassetlaw Council portfolio holder for revenues and benefits Coun Sylvia May said the cuts would hit low-income families hard - particularly those whol will also be affected by Council Tax Benefit changes.

“We will be going back to the 1930s and the days of overcrowding,” she said.

“It’s going to be a very difficult and uncertain period for many families in Worksop who are already vulnerable in some way - these are the ones who will be the hardest hit.”

“These are the ones who, if we don’t pull out all the stops to help them, are going to get lost in the system.”

A1 Housing managing director Bernard Coleman said they will support tenants to help them meet increased rent charges, take in a lodger or find a smaller property elsewhere in the district.

“Some families are going to find it very difficult to cope. To deal with this, A1 Housing have put on extra resources to help people and we have also appointed a new money advisor,” he said.

“There may be people who want to take in a lodger to meet the increased rent or downsize to another property, and we will be there to handhold them through that process.”

He added: “We also want to avoid people getting into debt and are working in close partnership with agencies such as the Credit Union to help people mange their finances through what will be a very difficult period.”

To find out what support is available call A1 Housing on 01909 533744.