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Merseyside families to be hit with yearly £16 million 'bedroom tax' bill

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Merseyside families to be hit with yearly £16 million 'bedroom tax' bill

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities, Finance

Angela Forshaw Angela Forshaw

Analysis of Department for Work and Pensions data by the National Housing Federation (NHF) has revealed that the Government’s 'bedroom tax' could cost Merseyside's social tenants over £16 million a year.

Here Angela Forshaw (pictured), director of housing and customer services at Liverpool Mutual Homes and chair of the Liverpool Housing Associations’ Welfare Reform Group, urges tenants to get in touch with their landlords to discuss the coming changes.

The data from the NHF is very disturbing and underlines just how hard tenants in Merseyside are going to be hit.

The gravity of the policy means it is vital tenants get in touch with their landlords and discuss their circumstances, especially as some may not realise it will affect them.

Tenants classed as under-occupying one bedroom will lose 14 percent of their housing benefit, while those with two or more ‘spare’ bedrooms will have 25 percent cut.

This is a huge amount of money at a time when many tenants are already struggling to make ends meet.

But help is available from landlords.

At LMH, we have partnered social enterprise Local Solutions and employed two specialists to provide tenants with advice on fuel debt, budgeting, opening bank accounts, signposting them to training and work, and making sure they receive the benefits they are entitled to.

Last year our work with Liverpool-based benefits advice charity RAISE, resulted in £1.2m extra in benefits being generated for tenants.

Daniel Klemm, the NHF’s North West lead manager, said: "The bedroom tax will unfairly penalise thousands of people across Merseyside who are low earners, or who find themselves unemployed or unable to work. Nearly two thirds of the people affected are disabled.

"This is a one-size fits all policy which won’t work for Merseyside. There are simply not enough affordable one-bedroom flats for couples to move into after they suddenly become ‘under-occupiers’ of their two- or three-bedroom homes.

"Some people may move out of larger affordable homes into smaller privately rented properties which can be more expensive, adding to the Housing Benefit bill."

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