Local concern on bedroom tax

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Protesters gather outside Liverpool Town Hall at the council's budget meeting

Protesters gather outside Liverpool Town Hall at the council’s budget meeting

A Liverpool benefits advice charity has warned those facing the bedroom tax to speak to their housing association as soon as possible.

The tax could cost between £40 and £80 a month for social housing tenants with spare bedrooms in their home.

Raise, an independent benefits advice charity that offers people across Merseyside advice on benefits, debt and money, has warned that this is the last opportunity for those affected to voice their concerns before the approved plans are put into place in April.

The government has introduced the bedroom tax as a part of the Welfare Reform Act. It will affect those receiving housing benefit living in a home that is considered to be under-occupied and will see an estimated 660,000 social housing tenants of working-age facing cuts to their benefits.

Liverpool City Council has already seen a backlash from locals as hundreds protested outside the Town Hall against the tax and many attended a meeting to discuss how the plans could be stopped. Protestors are asking for the tax to be held off for one year, giving them the opportunity to find an alternative home with fewer bedrooms.

Negativity over the plans has not only come from residents of Liverpool, Knowsley Housing Trust, a local housing association, said the changes to the welfare system will lead to “a hike in homelessness.” KHT has backed The National Housing Federation’s campaign to prevent disabled people being affected by the cuts.

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson told councillors that he would not listen to those protesting and the tax would be implemented regardless of the public’s view, stating: “The systematic dismantling of the public sector takes us back 50 years. It will reap more harm on those that need our support most. It will create more vulnerable families and undo generations of progress. That’s where we are, not where we want to be.”

This is the latest budget cut approved by the council and the three recent cuts – including the ‘bedroom tax’ – now total £32 million for the 2013-14 period. Disability living allowance claimants will be reassessed on tougher criteria and several million people across the UK will also be affected by hits to council tax relief.

Mayor Anderson warned that a further £149 million needs to be cut from the city’s budget over the next three years.

 

About Emma Kemmery, JMU Journalism