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‘The Bedroom Tax’ – Lib Dems Ask How Will Vulnerable Be Protected?

Published on: 12 Apr, 2013
Updated on: 17 Apr, 2013

Bedroom taxLiberal Democrat councillors are concerned that the most vulnerable in Guildford Borough are protected from the effects of the ‘Spare room Subsidy’, introduced on Monday.

They want to ensure that the so-called ‘Bedroom Tax’ does not hit council tenants with genuine reasons for having a spare room. The government is providing  a total of £155 million to assist all tenants, some in the private sector, affected by their reforms. Guildford Borough Council will receive £206,000.

The money is being made available to protect people who need a second or spare room for carers, for disability reasons, child custody arrangements and other necessities.

Last night (Thursday, April 11th), Guildford Borough Councillor Steve Freeman (Councillor for Onslow and group spokesman on Housing) asked Sarah Creedy, lead councillor for housing and social welfare, what measures were being taken to help council tenants and how the money they receive will be spent.

Cllr Creedy, in her written response wrote: “As a landlord, we recognise the changes being introduced this month and later in the year will create difficulties for many people. They will particularly affect tenants in social housing, especially those of working age who are under occupying.

Cllr Sarah Creedy

Cllr Sarah Creedy

“Some find the prospect of moving daunting and need practical help to move… Staff from the Estates and Housing Advice teams are working closely with the Tenants Action Group to finalise the shape of the scheme.

In what was acknowledged to be a comprehensive response, Cllr Creedy stated that the council had identified around 330 social housing tenants who will be affected in Guildford. Of those, only fifty tenants have expressed a desire to move. She assured the Councillors that people wishing to downsize would have their applications prioritised, and that rent arrears would not be a barrier to relocating to smaller properties with lower rents.

A Liberal Democrat spokesperson said: “The Lib Dem group want to ensure this money [the £206,000 from central government] is ring-fenced for those cases where an additional room is genuinely needed. It is hoped the Conservative administration do not seek to rely on their pitiful £40,000 hardship fund which will also cover grants for those affected by the Conservative Council Tax hike alongside a reduction in Council Tax Benefit, which will affect 800 families across Guildford Borough.

Steve Freeman

Cllr Steve Freeman

Councillor Steve Freeman commented on the benefit, saying: “With two million households on waiting lists across the UK, and an estimated seven year waiting list for Social Housing in Guildford, it is unlikely one- and two-bed properties will be available for people to downsize.

“The Liberal Democrat Group want to make sure that people are not being left destitute by the Spare Room subsidy in light of additional cuts to benefits for many in the borough.

“The Spare Room Subsidy will bring Social Housing in line with Private Housing, where people pay additional rent for additional rooms. However, there are clearly cases where a spare room is needed, be it for children, people in the forces, or the disabled. We want to ensure that these people get the money promised by the National Government, and it doesn’t get lost in the Council’s budget.”

“The Lib Dem group were disappointed that the money being made available to Guildford Borough Council to assist with discretionary housing benefit arising from the Spare Room Subsidy has not been ring fenced. Conservative Councillors consider there is no suggestion from Government that they should ring-fence the funding being made available for this purpose.”


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