Victims of the ‘bedroom tax’
David Cameron and his Cabinet ministers were wise to steer clear of the local council and housing association estates during their visit to Leeds this morning. It has been calculated that the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ which comes into force in April, penalising people on housing benefit who are reckoned to be occupying more living space than they actually need, is going to cost 41,000 tenants in Leeds a combined £9.4 million.
The tax is a blunt instrument designed to build into the welfare system an incentive to tenants to move to somewhere smaller when the children leave the nest. By the government’s own calculation, 660,000 claimants will lose an average of £14 a week, with Yorkshire and Humberside and the North West being the regions most heavily affected.
Inevitably, it is producing some very hard cases. The Hartlepool Mail has interviewed a couple whose seven year old daughter died of cancer, but who have not been able to face changing anything in her bedroom. They have been told that from April they will have to pay £56 a month for that ‘spare’ room. The Northampton Chronicle has highlighted the plight of a 60 year old man who gave up work to care for his wife who has a brain haemorrhage and needs a special bed. He will lose £60 a month for sleeping in a separate room. There are sure to be many more.
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