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