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Death to the ‘Bedroom Tax’ for Caerphilly County Borough?

Published in News at 09:52, Thursday July 25th, 2013. Last updated at 17:07, Wednesday July 31st, 2013

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Councillors are being urged to scrap the ‘Bedroom Tax’ in Caerphilly County Borough by campaigners.

From April 1 this year, changes to housing benefit by the UK Government meant that working-age recipients faced a cut of 14% to their payments for one spare bedroom, and a 25% cut for two spare bedrooms or more.

Critics have labelled the reduction a ‘Bedroom Tax’.

On July 23, campaigners handed in a 2,000 signature petition to councillors calling on them for action to reverse the reduction.

Campaign group ‘Caerphilly Against the Bedroom Tax’ staged a protest outside council offices before presenting the petition.

Civil servant Roy Davis, of Cefn Hengoed, is a founder of the group.

He said: “The ‘Bedroom Tax’ is an evil attack on the poorest members of society and it’s forcing people to leave their family homes because they can’t afford to pay the extra rent.

“It sickens me.”

Council leaders from the Labour group have backed the campaigners.

Cllr Gerald Jones, deputy leader of the council, said: “We’re proud to confirm our outright opposition to the Westminster Government’s imposition of this charge, which attacks tenants who are already suffering from the effects of the government’s ‘austerity’ cuts.

“We want to assure tenants that our Council is working hard to support all those affected by the ‘Bedroom Tax’.
“We have already had direct contact with almost 800 households to offer advice and support. If people have any concerns, we’d ask them to get in touch with our staff on 01443 864099 for advice.”

Latest information from the council shows that Caerphilly County Borough has approximately 2,741 social housing tenants affected by the ‘Bedroom Tax’. Of these, 560 are Registered Social Landlords tenants and 2,181 are council tenants.

Of the 2,181 council tenants affected by the change, 78% are under occupying by at least one bedroom and the rest (22%) by two or more. Under-occupancy by one bedroom will reduce housing benefit by an average of £11 per week and an average of £21 per week for two bedrooms.

On Wednesday July 24, councillors were set to discuss a Plaid Cymru motion seeking to propose a series of measures to protect tenants – including a promise not to evict people because of ‘Bedroom Tax’ arrears – something introduced by Brighton and Hove City Council.

Plaid group leader Colin Mann is urging the authority to increase the number of smaller units of housing, especially in areas most affected by the ‘Bedroom Tax’, by reclassifying properties.

He said: “Leeds City Council has proposed to reduce by one bedroom more than 800 of its properties while Nottingham City Council has reclassified all its 1,019 two-bedroom flats to one-bedroom properties. Knowsley Housing Trust has also reclassified properties.”

Speaking before Wednesday’s Policy and Resources Scrutiny Committee, where Plaid’s motion was to be discussed, its chair Hefin David said that while Labour was against the ‘Bedroom Tax’ it had to ensure the council acted lawfully.

Writing for Caerphilly Observer earlier this year, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith defended the ‘Bedroom Tax’.

He said: “There’s nothing fair about making families wait and wait for a house that is big enough, while other households on benefits are allowed to live in homes that are too big for their needs, at no extra cost.

“Many working families in Caerphilly cannot afford the luxury of having spare bedrooms, and the Government cannot afford to pay for bedrooms that are not being used.

“That’s why from April Housing Benefit claimants living in social housing with spare bedrooms will be expected to make a contribution towards the rent for those spare rooms.”

Caerphilly MP Wayne David has attacked Prime Minister David Cameron for not responding to a letter sent by a blind couple affected by the “Bedroom Tax”.

Mr and Mrs Goodwin, who have lived in their council house in Blackwood for 26 years, rely on their guide dogs, their family and their neighbours for support. Click here for the full story.

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  • Sue Powell

    Its fine for IDS to say that households "on benefits" are allowed to live in homes that are too big for their needs, at no extra cost.

    If this is his real policy, what about the people who aren't on benefits but are living in housing which in his view is "overcrowded".

    Will he move them, or penalise them because they're in the wrong property. No – At least not yet. Because he's lying.
    The real reason for the Bedroom Tax is pure sadism on the part of the government and their Tory/LibDem supporters, with the help of a lot of new labourites who in the main have been sitting on their hands.
    Their intention is to blame the state of the UK on the Poor! instead of themselves.
    People are starving and people are dying. It has to stop and now.
    The Child Poverty Action Group is seeing thousands more children in real poverty.

    When he's finished with the poor and the most vulnerable in society, he'll be back for the rest of us, unless he's stopped and stopped now.
    There is only one way to stop the tide of opinion and anger against the Bedroom Tax. ABOLISH THE BEDROOM TAX NOW!
    I see that prominent Tories in the Lords are now finally referring to this heinous tax by its real name, The Bedroom Tax. CaMORON won't like it but at least one Tory has finally called the beast by its real name.
    NOW LET'S GET RID OF THE BEDROOM TAX ONCE AND FOR ALL !!

  • Robyn Evans

    Sue Powell. It's fine for anyone to live in a house which they don't completely fill provided that they are paying for it. I don't want to help pay the rent of someone who is living in a house too big for them. I don't receive help paying my mortgage so why should they receive help paying rent? The bedroom tax is an excellent idea.

    If we are honest, the state of the UK economy is, generally speaking, down to the poor. The poor claim more from the state than they contribute towards it in taxes. If everyone were net contributors (like the majority of the middle and upper classes) then the economy would be perfect.

  • Trefor Bond

    The Labour Party are quite clear that they oppose this bedroom levy social housing tenants, and it appears Caerphilly Council maybe looking at ways to re-determine the levy they make, and which they then collect from tenants.

    Plaid Cymru have urged the Welsh Assembly Government to `encourage` Welsh local Authorities to be ` imaginable` in the way they can prevent this levy, up to now I know of no Welsh Council which has taken up this challenge from Plaid Cymru Members at the Assembly, whereas, English Councils have done so in order to protect the poorest tenants.

    If Caerphilly council found ways of acting lawfully on these matters and were able to `discount` the levy, it would cause a reduction in revenue income of about £15 to £20 million pounds a year, so it is financial restraints and financial governance which currently prevent Councillors from abolishing this odious levy now.

  • Helen

    Are other councils not ensuring that they are acting lawfully when taking steps to redress the bedroom tax? Caerphilly will talk a lot but do little. Other councils have and continue to act.

  • Cllr Lyndon Binding

    Shame that in the committee meeting that was discussing the bedroom tax on Wednesday 24th, that labour voted down the original plaid motion that also called for a "stop to evictions as a result of the bedroom tax arrears", (they basically "de-clawed it" by removing that part of the motion) labour supporters within Caerphilly should be seeking out there members on the committee (policy and resources) and asking the question why ?….we had a real opportunity to make a difference on Wednesday but labour obviously had other plans….

    Cllr Lyndon Binding (member of the committee that did vote to put a stop to evictions as a result of bedroom tax arrears).