Councils 'being left to implement Government's dirty work'
Published by 24publishing for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities, Local Government
Local authorities are being left to implement the Government's dirty work, a councillor has said - in the week his authority is contacting some 2,500 households warning them of housing benefit cuts for having spare bedrooms.
Cllr Bill McClements, cabinet member for resources at Telford and Wrekin Council, said taken together with cuts to council tax support, the so-called 'bedroom tax' could see people forced out of family homes they have lived in for a long time.
This week the council is contacting 2,500 households affected by the changes, informing them by how much they can expect their housing benefit to reduce by from April.
The policy, known in the sector as the 'bedroom tax', is part of Government’s wider national welfare reforms, applying to people of working age, living in social housing.
The Government aims to reduce benefit expenditure with the measure and free up larger homes for overcrowded households. However, critics of the reform warn there aren't enough smaller properties for people to downsize into and those affected will have to stay in their homes and take the benefit cut.
Some 660,000 households across Great Britain will be affected and will lose, on average, around £14 a week.
Under the scheme, tenants will see housing benefit cuts if they are considered, by the Government, to live in a home that has more bedrooms than they and their family need.
Pensioners will be exempt from any changes.
Mr McClements said: “This is another blow to many people in the borough on the lowest incomes. Once again councils are being left to implement the Government’s dirty work.
“When opportunities for extra work and income are limited because of the recession, I am sure we’ll see people forced out of family homes they have lived in for a long time because of this change.
“For many people of working age, when taken together with cuts in council tax benefits, it will mean a double blow and I am sure people will struggle to make ends meet.”