West Suffolk: 600 homes affected by ‘bedroom tax’

Mark Ereira

Mark Ereira

NEARLY 600 homes in west Suffolk face a reduction in benefits under the controversial ‘bedroom tax’, the East Anglian Daily Times can reveal.

Those living in social housing have been handed budget planners to try and work out how they can slice hundreds of pounds from their annual income.

Under the scheme, which was introduced at the start of the month, people in social housing with one spare bedroom will have their housing benefit cut by 14%, while those with two or more unoccupied rooms will see it slashed by 25%.

According to Havebury Housing Partnership, 593 of their 6,000 homes in St Edmundsbury will be affected. Based on an average three bed property with one spare room, £12.83 a week will be cut from housing benefits, while £22.91 will be cut for two spare rooms.

Green Party Mark Ereira, who represents Tower division in Bury St Edmunds, said the policy would hit a “great deal” of poor and vulnerable people.

Mr Ereira added: “I’ve had phone calls about it in the last couple of days. Lots of people are finding themselves in a very serious spot. It just raises this whole thing of what are we going to do for people that need social housing? It affects poor and vulnerable people, a lot of people who struggle in these accommodation and need the money - they’ve got all sorts of vulnerabilities. We are arriving at a pretty ugly place. It is very sad.”

Mr Ereira said in contrast, MPs who voted for the policy - described by David Cameron as the “spare room subsidy” - were still receiving taxpayers’ money for second homes.

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Karen Mayhew, chief executive at Havebury Housing Partnership, said they were working to make sure people understood the implications of the changes. She added: “We are already helping people move through mutual exchanges wherever possible and we are committed to building smaller properties in anticipation of increased demand. These changes are being imposed by the Government but as a landlord we will do all we can to help our tenants. Havebury has a free, specialist and impartial welfare and benefits advice team who can help tenants manage their finances and ensure they are getting all the right benefits.”

David Ruffley, MP for Bury St Edmunds, said: “It’s not a bedroom tax, it’s a complete misuse of language to suggest it is any kind of tax. What it is, is a sensible welfare reform to make sure under-occupied properties can be made available for families that need them.”

Any concerned Havebury tenants should call 0300 3300 900.