Some of the poorest and most vulnerable in our society will face the prospect of being forced from their homes, for the ‘crime’ of having a spare room. According to the National Housing Foundation two thirds of those affected are disabled. People simply cannot afford to pay; many will go into debt rather than be forced to move from their home
Lobby Stroud District Council
6pm on Thurs Oct 10th
At Council Offices, Ebley Mill, Stroud
Then Public Meeting at 7.45pm
At The Exchange, Brick Row, Stroud
We demand Stroud District Council:
- Commit to no evictions due to rent arrears from the Bedroom Tax for any council tenants and will pursue all measures to persuade other providers of social housing to adopt the same policy.
- According to the 1985 Housing Act a bedroom should be more than 70 square feet. So any social housing room smaller than this and deemed a bedroom, is unsuitable and should be re-designated.
Increase the building programme of social housing to a level that reflects the needs of Stroud District.
- Call on Housing Associations not to use ‘Ground 8’ against ‘assured tenants’ as this takes away a judge’s discretion about the granting of a possession order.
- Call a meeting with Housing Associations to plan how to protect tenants from the Bedroom Tax.
- Use its legal powers to bring empty homes into use.
Write off rent arrears for Bedroom Tax and top up the government’s discretionary housing payment fund.
Labour claim they will scrap the tax in 2015.
But we need more than election promises – Call an amnesty now!
There has been widespread anger and disgust at the reductions to Housing Benefit Entitlement, introduced in April 2013, more commonly known as the Bedroom Tax. Social housing tenants in receipt of housing benefit payments, excluding those in receipt of a state pension, will face reductions of 14% if deemed to have one spare bedroom and 25% if deemed to have two spare bedrooms. The Stroud News and Journal reported on the case of a 61 year old disabled man, living alone in a two bedroom council apartment, who faces a £16.32 cut to his housing benefit. Stress and anxiety will be caused to those who are the most vulnerable, as the prospect of increasing rent arrears mean either moving home or face possible eviction.
This measure is about blaming the most vulnerable in society for overcrowding due to a lack of affordable accommodation. The Homes and Communities Agency stated only 50 ‘affordable new housing units’ were built in Stroud District in 2011/12, down from 60 the previous year. There are simply not enough one and two bedroom properties available for anyone forced to downsize from a property with so called spare bedrooms. The SDC’s ‘Council New Build Programme’ report stated, ‘demand is primarily for one and two bedroom properties’, in October 2012 there were 1,859 applicants for one bedroom social housing property and 848 applicants for two bedroom properties, in April 2012 there were 2,703 households on the SDC’s waiting list, nearly double from 2002. Plans to build a total of 150 social housing units by March 2018 will not solve the shortfall. If the tax is implemented, many people will be forced into unsuitable temporary accommodation.
The cost of providing temporary accommodation will be enormous. If people are forced into the private rented sector the housing benefit bill will rise. A family forced from two bed social housing to a one bed flat in the private sector, would claim on average £1,500 more per year in housing benefit, according to the National Housing Federation. Added to this some Stroud properties have been adapted for the needs of disabled people, some through local authority grants, the national average cost is £6,000. Not only will resources have been wasted but SDC could face re-adaption costs if the Bedroom Tax is implemented.