Warning over 'bedroom tax' changes

By Connie Osborne Wednesday 02 January 2013 Updated: 03/01 13:41

A STUDLEY councillor has warned residents on benefits could be punished for living in larger homes.

Coun Hazel Wright said she feared tenants would be penalised for living in properties deemed too large for their needs as part of Government welfare changes.

The introduction of the 'bedroom tax' in April aims to protect taxpayers from having to pay for a two or three-bedroom house for a single person.

It will see housing benefit for those with one spare bedroom slashed by 14 per cent, while those with two spare rooms could face a 25 per cent reduction. The National Housing Federation estimates it will result in the loss of between more than £586 and £977 a year.

A total of 60 Studley residents are thought to be affected and Coun Wright said they would have little or no option to move into a smaller property.

"I have already been involved with some residents who are going to be affected. It is the usual thing of trying to make one size fit all," she said.

"Where in Studley are tenants going to move to a smaller one bedroom property because the council has very few of

these."

She added in the past Stratford-on-Avon District Council had refused to support the building of one bedroom affordable properties on the grounds of sustainability, asking for larger properties to be built in case people required more space.

She also voiced concerns about disabled people who could find themselves more than £50 worse off a month because of having a second bedroom.

But Coun Maurice Howse, responsible for enterprise, housing and revenues on Stratford District Council, said those affected could choose whether or not they wanted to stay in their current accommodation.

"Orbit has written to all of their tenants affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ with a personal statement of how they will be affected when this is introduced. However, ultimately it is the tenant’s decision as to whether to seek alternative accommodation," he said.

"Based upon current evidence it would appear that people are electing to take accommodation on even through the risk of financial penalty exists."

Redditch Borough Council estimates about 1,000 people could be affected by the change.

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