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Bedroom tax forcing hundreds in Brighton and Hove into arrears
Hundreds of tenants affected by the “bedroom tax” have been pushed into debt by the controversial policy.
Nearly 1,000 people in Brighton and Hove have had their housing benefit reduced by up to 25% because of changes introduced on April 1 that penalise people who have more bedrooms than they need.
But official figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show 342 out of 886 (39%) of tenants affected by bedroom tax have been pushed into arrears – the highest percentage in the south east.
Campaigners claim that with the Government’s welfare reforms yet to take full hold the numbers of people affected will just get higher.
But advocates claim that the reduction was the only fair thing to do.
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Clifford Singer, campaign manager for False Economy, which obtained the figures, said it showed the “predictable chaos that has resulted from the hated bedroom tax”.
He said: “It is driving tenants and families who were just making ends meet into arrears, and pushing those who were already struggling with the cost of living into a full-blown crisis.”
The Government claimed the policy would free up homes for those on the waiting list while helping reduce the benefit bill by persuading people to down-size.
The data measures the impact of the bedroom tax over its first four months.
In Adur figures show that 81 out of 231 (38%) have been pushed into arrears.
But Arun (46 of 190 – 24%) and Wealden (27 of 181 – 15%) had lower figures.
No information was provided for the other boroughs and districts in the area.
Across the south east, more than 2,000 council tenants – or 23 per cent of all tenants affected – have been pushed into arrears.
But Simon Kirby, Conservative MP for Brighton Kemptown, stood by the Government stance to ensure housing support is based on household needs.
Mr Kirby said: “I believe that when there are 250,000 social housing tenants living in overcrowded accommodation and over two million people on waiting lists, it is unacceptable for the Government to subsidise people to live in accommodation that is too big for their actual needs.”
Brighton and Hove City Council’s Green administration was the first town hall in England to pledge no one would be evicted directly due to the changes.
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