Councillor brands bedroom tax as ‘futile’ and ‘not fair’

HUNDREDS of people in Worthing remain on the waiting list for one bedroom properties as a result of the Government’s ‘Bedroom Tax’.

A Freedom of Information Request submitted to Worthing Borough Council by a nationwide campaign group showed that in August there were 591 residents on the waiting list for one bedroom properties in Worthing, but no one bedroom properties were available for letting out.

Alan Malzard, who lives in Cambridgeshire, said: “We have been collecting data from councils across the country to show how completely unworkable the Bedroom Tax policy is. There are simply not enough smaller homes for people to down size to and shamefully the Government knew this when the policy was introduced. The policy is flawed in every possible way.”

David Cameron introduced the new tax, which is also known as spare room subsidy, in April.

It is a change to Housing Benefit Entitlement that means you will receive less in housing benefit if you live in a housing association or council property that is deemed to have one or more spare bedrooms.

Worthing borough councillor David Chapman, who is also the shadow cabinet member for customer care, described David Cameron’s new occupation rules as a “rather futile measure.”

“It is not particularly fair,” he said. “Who can say what is a spare room when people need additional rooms for health, disability and family contact reasons. I think many regard their house as their home and would prefer to stay and meet the shortfall. Others may chose to challenge and appeal.

“I do not see the measure releasing all that many larger properties in relation to the distress caused. It would be better if it was supported by grants and supports to help those who can and want to move.”

A spokesperson for Worthing Homes said: “We are aware of the high demand for one bedroom properties. Around 30 per cent of our 3,000 properties are one bedroom properties and at the current time we have ten one bedroom properties vacant.

“More than 200 of our tenants have seen a reduction in their housing benefit due to the new regulations on occupancy levels, known as the bedroom tax, but only a small number wish to move to a smaller home. Many of those affected are using the ‘spare’ bedroom. This could be for an older child or other family member, or a child that could share a room with a sibling; others affected are using the room for disability equipment.

“We are actively working with residents affected and advising them on their options. This will include moving to a smaller property or ensuring they maximise their income.”