Sign up to our Editors Choice newsletter now! Click here

Newcastle landlord to visit 6,000 tenants hit by Government's 'bedroom tax'

Accessibility Menu

Menu Search

24dash - The UK's most up-to-date social housing and public sector news website

Newcastle landlord to visit 6,000 tenants hit by Government's 'bedroom tax'

24DASH.COM Logo

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

Newcastle landlord to visit 6,000 tenants hit by Government's 'bedroom tax' Newcastle landlord to visit 6,000 tenants hit by Government's 'bedroom tax'

Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) is carrying out face-to-face interviews with more than 6,000 tenants facing significant income drops as a result of the Government's Welfare Reform Act.

Staff from the Newcastle ALMO have already completed over 2,000 home visits of residents identified as underoccupying their properties who face losing housing benefit under the 'bedroom tax'.

The remaining 4,000 tenants will be visited before the changes come into force in April.

Further visits will also be arranged for those who will be affected by the benefit cap, which will see a limit set on the maximum amount of money many tenants can receive from their combined benefits.

Diane Creighton, welfare reform project manager at YHN, said: “The Government’s welfare reform act has many strands that will affect huge numbers of our tenants but it is very complicated and it can be difficult for tenants to work out exactly what all of this means for them financially.

“Many of us hear expressions such as bedroom tax and universal credit but what this means for individuals can be hard to work out and there are a lot of rumours about. For example, some tenants don’t think that they will be affected by a reduction in housing benefit as they don’t have what they consider to be a spare room – but the new rules mean siblings below certain ages are expected to share. Also, many pensioners are getting very anxious when in fact the changes will not affect them.

“To some people, the loss of income for individual changes may not seem too dramatic but the cumulative effect of a number of them on someone with very little income can mean real hardship. Our staff will be able to explain all this in detail and then help tenants understand what they can do to improve their circumstances as well as help support them in this.

“We’re committed to supporting our tenants in preparing now so they can maintain their quality of life. But, we also need to protect our business by ensuring we maintain levels of rental income so that we can continue to deliver the quality services that our tenants have come to expect from us.

“It’s the complex nature of these changes that inspired us to take the unusual step of organising personal visits on such a massive scale. We are also engaging in a raft of other activity, from having an information bus touring the city to working in partnership with employment schemes, in an attempt to lessen the impact of the changes.”

One of the tenants who has already benefitted from a home visit is David Bell (pictured), 51, who lives in a three bedroom property in West Denton. David is separated and has joint custody of his two sons, aged 11 and 16, who live with him about half of the time.

As only one of his sons is registered as a permanent resident at his address, David will receive less housing benefit for under-occupying his home from April.

David said: “When I got the letter from YHN I jumped at the chance to organise a visit. I was aware of the changes to benefits but didn’t know how much they were going to impact on me and the boys financially, so it was great to have someone go through our exact circumstances with us.

“I really appreciate the time YHN has taken to explain everything to me; I got so much information and understand everything much better now. They didn’t have to do that so it goes a long way.

“The new Government rules are so black and white that they make no allowances for our custody situation, so I either have to move to another place or suffer the loss of around £10-15 each week.

“Moving isn’t really an option for me, my children need consistency, they are settled in this area and it’s easy for them to get to school – if I move, their lives will be disrupted and it could impact on their education and career prospects which I obviously don’t want. So I have to find the extra money from somewhere.

“I was recently head hunted by Choiceworks for a part-time post assisting young people to cook healthy and affordable meals at Trinity Oakfield College because of similar volunteering work I had been doing and I’m thrilled to be working again. I’m a bit sceptical about the Government’s view that everyone will be financially better off under the new system – as the extra money I make will be going straight towards my bedroom tax.

“I would definitely rather be in work than out of it though. My job is so rewarding and even if I am losing the extra money, I’m gaining so much personally that I still prefer it. We’re just going to have to cut our cloth even further like thousands of other families across Newcastle, it’s hard but there’s no getting away from it.”

Any YHN tenants who have not already arranged for a personal visit after receiving a letter can contact their local housing office. YHN is committed to visit all of those who will be affected by the changes before they come into effect, so far over 2,000 have taken place.

Comments

Login and comment using one of your accounts...