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‘Bedroom tax’ costing Brighton and Hove City Council £450,000 a year
Controversial changes to housing benefits are costing Brighton and Hove City Council more than £450,000 a year while more families are falling into debt, it has been revealed.
The changes introduced in 2012, known as the “bedroom tax” or “spare room subsidy”, mean that anyone living in social housing who is receiving housing benefits will lose 14% of their payment if they have one spare bedroom or 25% if they have two or more spare rooms.
A total of 695 families are being impacted by the welfare reforms costing the council’s Housing Revenue Account £454,000 a year.
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And the number of these families now struggling to pay the bills has risen from 277 last year to 337.
Of those, 63 have debts totalling more than £500, up from 41 the year before.
A total of 177 families who weren’t in debt in April 2013 are also now in arrears.
Council figures show that 605 families are being penalised for having one spare room while 90 others are suffering the effects of having two extra spare rooms.
Costs rising The policy has been widely criticised by opponents.
Labour’s lead member for housing, Chaun Wilson, said: “The introduction of the bedroom tax has cost the council nearly half a million pounds at a time where our housing budget is under greater pressure than ever before.
“Rent arrears are becoming a significant issue for those on lower incomes, many who are seeing reductions in their incomes at a time when their livings costs are increasing.”
Garry Peltzer Dunn, housing spokesman for the Conservative group, said: “Since the spare room subsidy was abolished by the Government a year ago, over 250 council homes which were previously under-occupied have been freed up for local families to move into.
“This is exactly why the Government brought in the policy – to try to ease the chronic problem of high waiting lists and overcrowding in social housing.”
A council spokesman said the authority had worked hard to help struggling families and added schemes like the Mutual Exchange and Tenant Incentive Scheme had been successful in helping hundreds of families.
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