27 March 2013
GREEN Party Councillor Ash Haynes will on Tuesday 26th March put forward a motion to a meeting of Norwich City Council opposing the changes to housing benefit known as the bedroom tax. The motion would prevent the council from evicting tenants because of arrears due to the bedroom tax. Over 2700 council tenants will be affected by the government legislation, along with a further 300 tenants of housing associations.
When a tenant’s arrears reaches a certain level the council would normally evict them but if the Green Party’s motion passes then any arrears that are due to the bedroom tax will not be taken into account. It also asks the council to work with housing associations to protect their tenants from eviction over this unfair tax. Brighton and Hove, a Green Party controlled council, and Dundee council have already passed motions doing this and now refuse to evict people because of the bedroom tax. Edinburgh Council is also looking into the same measure.
Councillor Ash Haynes said:
“The bedroom tax is going to have a real impact on council house residents in Norwich unless we do something. Simply saying that we’re opposed to the bedroom tax will do nothing to help residents who are facing the very real threat of eviction while working to mitigate the impact of this unfair and cruel government policy will make a real difference to people’s lives.”
The bedroom tax is part of welfare reforms which would cut the housing benefits that people would receive if they are deemed to have a spare bedroom in their property. This includes disabled people who reside in properties which are otherwise adapted for their needs, separated parents who share the care of their children, and foster families with more than one spare bedroom.
The bedroom tax won’t just hit people with spare rooms. Broadland Housing Association tenant and mother of two Samantha Turner faces a shortfall of over £80 a month after next month’s benefit cuts. She will be charged for the box room her one-year-old son sleeps in and faces cuts to her council tax benefits.
Ms Turner said:
“I just don’t know where I’m going to find the extra money from – we’re struggling as it is. The Government said my two boys should share a bedroom until they’re sixteen, but these rooms are so tiny - it’s just not possible. It would make sense if I actually had a spare bedroom, but they’re charging me for a room he sleeps in.”