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Bedroom tax clobbers tenants who are trapped with nowhere to go, claim
12:34pm Tuesday 15th October 2013 in News
A LABOUR councillor has called on Dudley Council to exclude families with two children living in three bedroom flats from the controversial bedroom tax if they cannot be offered alternative accommodation.
Cradley and Foxcote councillor Richard Body claims there are a number of families in this position and said it was “absolutely wrong” that they should be hit by the so-called bedroom tax.
The Government’s newly introduced room subsidy, which cuts tenants housing benefit by either 14 per cent or 25 per cent depending on whether they are deemed to have one or more than one spare bedroom, has caused a storm of protest.
Cllr Body said: “The Government says young children should share a bedroom and, therefore, a family with two children in three bedroom accommodation, even if it’s not suitable and not what they want, have to find on average an extra £14 a week.”
“More and more people are being thrown into poverty,” added Cllr Body, whose ward has 137 families affected by the bedroom tax.
Across the borough, latest figures reveal 3,422 households have been hit by the tax, and Belle Vale councillor Bob James, whose ward is one of the highest with 266 affected, hopes the local authority will find ways of re-classifying some of its housing stock to make some of it exempt.
The Conservative councillor said Cllr Body’s recommendation could not be supported because such a move would be illegal, although he is hopeful that officers will come up with a re-classifiaction and re-modelling of council housing stock.
This could see third bedrooms in flats designated as dining rooms and box rooms redefined as studies.
But Cllr James said it was a “complex issue” which would have implications on how much rent the council could collect.
He added: “Housing officers tell me there is no need for people to be living in accommodation with more bedrooms than they need - there are properties available, but they might not be in the area they want to live.”
Cllr Body refuted his claim, saying that as far as knew, there are no two bedroom properties available in the borough.
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