Bedroom tax

Thousands of low-income disabled people in Cambridgeshire will be forced to pay more rent or move out of their homes under the Government’s new ‘bedroom tax’ coming in on 1 April, the National Housing Federation has warned.

Under the change, over 6,6001 people in Cambridgeshire will lose an average of £667 a year in Housing Benefit if they have one ‘spare’ bedroom in their council or housing association home and £1,191 a year if they have two or more2.

Shockingly, more than 4,0003 of those affected are disabled - and if the Government’s Discretionary Housing Payments fund was shared equally among disabled people hit by the tax, they would each receive as little as £1.80 a week to cover the shortfall, compared to the national average £14 a week loss in housing benefit.

According to the Federation’s estimates, the picture for Fenland is: 655 estimated people affected; £632 estimated average annual loss for one extra bedroom; £1,128 estimated average annual loss for two extra bedrooms and 413 estimated number of people with a disability affected.

The bedroom tax affects all working-age housing benefit claimants who are deemed to have one or more extra bedrooms in their council or housing association home. This includes separated parents who share the care of their children, families where young children have a small bedroom each, foster carers, and disabled people who have their home specially adapted for their needs.

Claire Astbury, East of England lead manager for the National Housing Federation says: “The Government’s bedroom tax is flawed and will unfairly penalise thousands of people in the Cambridgeshire who have lived in their homes for years, raised families and contributed to their communities.

“The ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach takes no account of disabled people’s adapted homes, of foster parents who need rooms to take children in, or of parents sharing custody who will lose the room for their child at weekends.

“In most areas, there just aren’t enough smaller affordable homes for these families to move into to avoid the tax. Many people will find themselves having to move into more expensive privately rented properties - adding to the overall housing benefit bill.

“The bedroom tax shows just how detached Ministers are from the lives of families who will be hit. The high housing benefit bill is because there are not enough affordable homes, so the best way to cut the bill is to build more.’

The National Housing Federation is calling on the Government to repeal this policy, but at the very least right now it must exempt disabled and other vulnerable people from these cuts before it comes into effect on 1st April.

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