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'Chilling' impact of the bedroom tax revealed in Newcastle

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'Chilling' impact of the bedroom tax revealed in Newcastle

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Bill Payments and also in Housing, Local Government

'Chilling' impact of the bedroom tax revealed in Newcastle 'Chilling' impact of the bedroom tax revealed in Newcastle

Newcastle council has published a report into the "chilling" impact of the bedroom tax and other welfare changes on the city.

The report says the government's policies are costing the council and local housing providers millions of pounds in unpaid rent while forcing residents to downsize into smaller accommodation.

And it says the impact on individuals would be much greater if it was not for the "hard-pressed" local authority and the voluntary and community sector stepping in to rescue those in need.

The report found:

  • Council tenants' rent arrears increased by £274,000 from March to December 2013
  • By the end of 2013/14 rent arrears are expected to top £1 million
  • Reductions in working tax credits in the last two years have left claimants £1,000 to £1,500 a year worse off
  • Housing benefit changes have removed £3.26m out of the local economy
  • 33% of residents surveyed expect their finances to worsen this year
  • One in three children in Newcastle are growing up in poverty
  • A food bank in the West End issued more than 400 vouchers in four months

Deputy leader of Newcastle City Council, Cllr Joyce McCarty, who has responsibility for helping people affected by welfare reform, said: "This report shows the chilling effect of welfare changes on all sections of our community - the unemployed, low paid families, younger and older people, and people with disabilities and mental health issues.

"The bedroom tax, housing benefit, working tax credits and sanctions have all had a significant impact on people's quality of life which has put the council and its partners under greater strain as we work together to lessen the impact.

"Two thirds of people affected by the bedroom tax are in rent arrears but the numbers would be much higher if organisations like Your Homes Newcastle were not absorbing some of the pressure. But dealing with the hidden costs of welfare changes is just piling up greater problems for the future.

"It is scary for people caught up in this, but as a council we are working with the Newcastle Voluntary and Community Sector to do all that we can to help them. Somehow we are managing but for how much longer as the situation is predicted to get worse."

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