THE shocking impact of the so called bedroom tax on hundreds of Gloucester families is laid bare today.
Families living in social housing are now penalised financially for any spare bedrooms they do not need according to Government legislation.
Some 466 families in the city are now trying to move to a smaller property as they struggle to pay the bills.
Unpaid rent by 238 families because of the removal of the Spare Room Subsidy has now stacked up to £25,000 since April last year – that's an average £105 of debt per family. One couple, who are disabled, were forced to downsize to a one-bedroom property despite them being unable to share the bedroom for medical reasons.
Councillor Mary Smith (L, Robinswood) said: "Two disabled people cannot share a room for whatever medical reason and they were told they only needed one bedroom and were forced to move. That is the reality of the bedroom tax.
"The effects have been horrendous. Some people are spending less than £20 per week on food and that is quite staggering."
Gloucester City Council's plan to cut £100,000 from the voluntary and community sector grants budget has come under fire again as it is organisations such as the Citizen Advice Bureau which help people struggling with the bedroom tax.
Councillor Kate Haigh, leader of the Labour group on the city council, said: "My group is concerned with the cuts to these organisations and would hope that the administration takes this into account when dealing with their budget plans."
Gloucester City Council said it was doing all it can to help people struggling with rent by handing out discretionary housing payments.
Councillor Fred Wood, cabinet member for performance and resources, said: "We are doing what we can to help."
The council was criticised at a meeting last week for only spending £86,207 of the £145,000 discretionary housing payment grant handed down by the Government to the city.
Mr Wood added: "We are working with those who need our help the most.
"If they don't get a discretionary housing payment it is often because they had more than they realised and they were given help with their finances."