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Bedroom tax – families are spiralling into debt in Gloucestershire

By The Citizen  |  Posted: January 28, 2014

Comments (17)

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."

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  • RoadWombat  |  January 30 2014, 2:48AM

    The difference is that the house I live in belongs to, and has been entirely paid for, by me - the result of many years' hard work. The people in houses under question are also being paid for by me. In return for my generosity I expect my money to be used in the most efficient way possible. I have no problem giving people a helping hand when they need it but do expect at least a token effort in return.

  • Motormouth  |  January 29 2014, 10:13PM

    RoadWombat would you really want some unknown single homeless person moving into your family home sharing your kitchen, bathroom and personal family space? Someone you have not had the opportunity to vet beforehand? Are you really expecting people to actually approach their housing associations and openly invite Mr/Ms Potential Domestic Disaster into their homes? Your comment implies that you consider those on benefits and in social housing as a lesser species and somehow not deserving of a safe and secure family life.

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  • RoadWombat  |  January 29 2014, 12:36PM

    But, if you went to the Council and said "I have a spare room. Please put one of your single homeless people into it", they wouldn't say no. But will tenants do that? No, of course they won't.

  • dibblebibble  |  January 29 2014, 11:24AM

    @spindles - teneancy agreements. I know in Council housing you are not allowed to sub-let.

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  • spindles12  |  January 29 2014, 7:41AM

    What's to stop anyone from having a lodger who could pay enough rent to cover any charges made for having a spare room? If the tenants are that hard up that they can't afford to pay the "tax" then wouldn't that be a good idea?

  • RoadWombat  |  January 28 2014, 9:27PM

    The quantity of one or two bedroom houses isn't really relevant. Those that are available can be used until they're all taken up. Those that aren't quick enough to get one are generously permitted to carry on living where they are but they must, of course, expect a reduced handout for the privilege. Alternatively, they can make arrangements for someone else to move into the excess space that the taxpayer is paying for but this hasn't even been made compulsory (which it perhaps should be). What we should be seeing, therefore, is a scramble for the available smaller homes. But no! Selfish people want to not only have a larger house than they need (subsidised by the generous taxpayer) but not to have to pay for it! I say again - they should be grateful that the taxpayer subsidises them at all - in many countries they wouldn't.

  • Richardburton  |  January 28 2014, 7:59PM

    If anyone is interested in facts on the BedroomTax look no futher than the Telegraph, Independent, Guardian, The times, any one of these will tell you the truth for these people who are affected.... There are not enough one or two bedroom houses to house all the people affected. Ask any Housing provider! Many people have lived in these homes for years and paid rent . Private rents costs more to live in then social homes and of course you have a choice to where you live! Most low paid don't have enough to pay the extra needed to rent privately. Have many houses being built now have any one bedroom places even though we all know that is what is needed? I hear they are building new houses in Podsmead but how many will be one bedroom? Until the Government/ local councillors are affected nothing will change it's all hot air! Not enough homes being built that people can afford to rent and yet this council have let off the builders by agreeing to lessen how many homes they build for affordable rent!. We should be having a go at the idiots who didn't have the brains to see the problem... and yet many groups/people told them ... but it didn't affect the MP so why should he give a s*** and he didn't so he voted for the bedroom tax!, Likes to gag us as well he voted for that a few days ago!

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  • RoadWombat  |  January 28 2014, 5:17PM

    But you still haven't answered Walker100e's question, which is: "Why should people in receipt of benefits be paid for a spare bedroom when those people funding the benefits can't afford the same luxury?" People don't mind giving their money to help others so long as it is appreciated and their generosity is not taken advantage of. Unfortunately, rather than being grateful for a subsidised roof over their heads, some people want bigger houses and spare rooms as if it is some sort of right. It's the old "Gimmie, gimmie, gimmie" culture, I'm afraid. They should thank their lucky stars that OTHER PEOPLE's hard work and generosity is subsidising them - in many counties they would have to manage entirely on their own.

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  • dibblebibble  |  January 28 2014, 4:08PM

    @roadwombat - (I'll use your name because unlike you, I'm not going to be childish and call each other names here.) The fact is these people are now going into debt with rent arrears due to a Government policy that is NOT working, in it's current form. The solution to the problem is to build more single occupancy abodes so these people could move and free up larger properties. Surely you can see that? Or would you prefer all those people simply being made homeless due to new debt, which in itself would create a new problem for the Government? Yes, there is a problem of under occupancy but to simply stop some of the benefit is NOT going to sort out the problem....because, (and I'm going to put it in capitals), THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH SINGLE OCCUPANCY ABODES FOR THESE PEOPLE TO MOVE INTO......**EVEN IF THEY WANTED TO**! (I wish I could underline that point) That is what you and many, many others, including Government ministers fail to realise. This is also affecting people IN WORK! It's not all about "benefit scroungers", despite the Tory rhetoric. There are many, many people who do go out to work, everyday, who are tax payers but, through no real fault of their own, are on a low income. They happen to live in a property whereby their kids used to live, or a husband or wife lived until they died, and now have an empty bedroom. But because they go out to work and need to claim a small amount of benefit to HELP THEM, they are now being penalised. They are NOT the scroungers, yet they are being affected! Do you know that only £27billions is spent on the entire housing/rent rebate/Council Tax benefits? That's £27billion out of a total of £695billions of public spending n the UK. A small drop of the pot. So TOTAL Housing benefit, Rent Rebates, and Council Tax benefits, the very things affected by the bedroom tax, only equates to approx of 5% of ALL public spending in the UK! The biggest pot is Pensions...something you may need soon! Many benefits go to people who are working but on low incomes and the changes to benefits Government made recently have hit 1000's of working people. e.g. 300,000 nurses, 42,000 soldiers, 510,000 shop assistants, 150,000 teachers. So it's not just targeting the skivers, (as the Conservadems claim), it's targeting hard working tax paying people too! Also, isn't it interesting how 177 of the MPs that voted YES to the Bedroom Tax, have claimed up to £25k EACH in their own "spare bedroom" expenses...including our own Martin Horwood who claimed up to £20k. Maybe you should also ask them to explain how they can justify cutting £16 a week from the disabled, the vulnerable, the elderly, low income workers and the very poorest members of our society – but claim up to £450 a week for their own "spare bedrooms" /rant

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  • RoadWombat  |  January 28 2014, 2:30PM

    Dribbledribble - all you have done in reply to Walker100e's perfectly legitimate question is ask another of your own. Asking another question instead of answering is a tactic used by those unable to support their position. Now then - without prevaricating and getting in a tizz - ANSWER HIS QUESTION.