Fears for disabled over ‘bedroom’ tax

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Almost 500 disabled people in Amber Valley could be forced to pay more rent or move out of their homes when the

‘bedroom tax’ comes into

effect next month.

The borough council says 926 people on low incomes in Amber Valley will lose an average of £647 a year in Housing Benefit if they have one ‘spare’ bedroom in their council or housing association home and £1,167 a year if they have two spare rooms.

John Bradley, from the Derbyshire Unemployed Workers’ Centre, warned the reduction in benefit award could lead to a ‘vast’ rise in evictions.

“People are getting really concerned,” he said. “A lot of people won’t know what is going to hit them.

“We are seeing a big explosion of food banks - they are being set up across the country as fast as they can. It’s a disgrace.

“The Welfare State was set up to prevent the five giant evils’ of want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness’.We will see them make a big comeback.”

Mr Bradley also warned advice agencies would soon be struggling when various funds for the poorest people - including crisis loans to buy food, community care grants for household items and budgeting loans - come to an end.

The National Housing Federation is also calling on the Government to repeal the ‘bedroom tax and wants disabled and other vulnerable people to be made exempt now before the new tax comes into effect on April 1.

Chris Hobson, East Midlands lead manager for the federation, said: “The Government’s bedroom tax is flawed and will unfairly penalise thousands of people in the East Midlands who have lived in their homes for years, raised families and contributed to their communities.”

The bedroom tax will affects all working-age housing benefit claimants who are deemed to have one or more bedrooms in their council or housing association home.

This includes separated parents who share the care of their children, families where young children have a small bedroom each, foster carers, and disabled people who have their home specially adapted for their needs.

Now Iain Duncan Smith exempted foster carers and families with adult children who are in the Armed Forces from the tax.

Jackie Westwood, income recovery manager at Futures Homescape, said the housing association expected 12 per cent of their 5,800 properties in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire to be affected by the changes, and have put additional resources in place in advance of the changes taking place.