Anger over ‘bedroom tax’ ruling

Objections have been raised over the new ‘bedroom tax’ being introduced by the government.

A public meeting organised by the South East Northumberland Trades Union Council, Unison and the Public Services Alliance, heard of anger and confusion being caused by the new ruling.

Among the guest speakers was Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery, Ashington Town Council leader John McCormack and county councillors Alan Hepple and Laura Pidcock.

The meeting heard that some families were being threatened with eviction from their homes or forced to look for smaller accommodation due to the reduction in housing benefit caused by them having a ‘spare’ bedroom.

Attendees were also told that there were around 5,200 families at risk in Northumberland, but only 40 one-bedroom properties available.

Concerns were raised that those most at risk were in employment but their low wages meant they needed state support, such as housing benefit.

At the end of the meeting it was unanimously agreed to call on all social housing providers in Northumberland to adopt a policy of re-designating spare bedrooms for alternative use, and follow the lead of 15 local authorities and guarantee that no family will be evicted as a result of arrears which have arisen owing to the reduction in their housing benefit because of the ‘bedroom tax’.

Mr Lavery said: “This is a pernicious and unjust tax on hard working people, causing families enormous worry and fear for the future.”

Coun McCormack added: “We must continue to oppose this divisive and damaging tax.”