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Bedroom Tax Hits Cheshire East

Residents of Chancellor George Osborne’s constituency of Tatton, living in housing trust-owned homes, are facing financial upheaval as a result of the introduction of the so-called ‘Bedroom Tax’.  Changes to the welfare system come into force in the spring and will see housing benefit slashed by up to 25 per cent as part of the Government’s Welfare Reform Act.

Under the reform, working-age tenants renting from a local authority, housing association or social landlord who receive housing support will lose 14 per cent of their housing benefit if they have one spare bedroom and will lose 25 per cent of benefit if they have two or more spare bedrooms.

They will have to move to a smaller property or lose their benefit.

Cheshire Peaks and Plains, one of the three housing trusts serving  the area, told the Knutsford Guardian the new Act could impact as many as 700 of its 5,000 homes, and will have a ‘potentially catastrophic impact on the most vulnerable of society’, such as people who have a live-in carer through disability or families who share custody of children.  Whilst it will offer people priority on its housing application system if they decide to move into a smaller property –it does not have enough smaller properties for everyone.  For some households this could mean having to choose between feeding their families and heating their homes.  The trust estimates that the bedroom tax will affect as many as 700 of its 5,000 residents.

The National Housing Federation estimates 660,000 working age social tenants across the country will be affected by the bedroom tax. This represents 31 per cent of existing working age housing benefit claimants in the social housing sector. The majority have only one extra bedroom.

In cash terms, council tenants will lose, on average, £14 for their first spare room while housing association tenants will lose £16 a week, unless they downsize to a smaller property.

The fact people in the chancellor’s leafy Tatton seat – the wealthiest in the north of England – are set to be affected shows just how pervasive the impact of the bedroom tax will be.

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