Council chiefs have distanced themselves from a political pledge to not evict tenants who build up debt due to the bedroom tax.

Green Party members on Brighton and Hove City Council made a commitment not to kick anyone out of social accommodation whose arrears are accrued solely due to the policy.

But The Argus understands the party, which is in minority control of the local authority, did not discuss the issue with housing officers before making the announcement.

With questions about how the move would be funded remaining unanswered and worries from opposition councillors that it will encourage residents to miss rent payments, unelected council officers have stayed silent on the issue.

'Idea for consideration'

Brighton and Hove City Council chief executive Penny Thompson said: “The council has not made any decisions on such a policy.

“Councillors are free to present an idea for consideration at a council meeting and if supported, it could be investigated for feasibility.

“We are working hard to support those hit by welfare changes and are proactively contacting those affected to ensure they know about the help available to them.”

From April 1, the Government will reduce housing benefit for anyone in social accommodation who has a spare bedroom.

About 1,400 people in Brighton and Hove are thought to be affected.

'Position of principle'

The Argus asked if the Green Party announcement was unanimous by the party’s councillors but a spokesman declined to comment.

Liz Wakefield, the council’s housing committee chairman, said it was a “position of principle”.

But Labour group leader Gill Mitchell said: “They should either state exactly how their proposal will work or admit that it cannot be implemented.

“By playing politics with this issue they are raising false hopes and simply compounding the misery of people already struggling to make ends meet.”

Conservative group leader Geoffrey Theobald said it was another example of the Labour and Green parties’ “continuing bid to outflank each other on the left”.

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